Regulations May Impact Second Home Owners
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is currently reviewing regulations relating to non-domestic properties ( including second homes) to simplify and clarify ambiguous and outdated regulations. The outcome of the review may lead to the ability for local authorities to start charging second homeowners, under certain circumstances, for collection of waste. The changes are likely to affect self catering holiday accommodation and caravan parks. Lord Henley the Environment Minister said “under the current regulations local authorities effectively subsidise waste management costs… by paying the disposal costs from their own budgets”.’The proposals in consultation would enable local authorities to make a charge for collection and disposal services… if they choose to do so. The proposals would create a level playing field for local authorities, businesses and their customers and would mean that councils would no longer have to subsidise services provided to certain premises”.
There is currently political pressure to improve the percentage of waste that is recycled and to reduce the burden of cost on public sector local authorities, in line with cutting the deficit. according to DEFRA the proportion of household waste sent for recycling, composting or reuse in 2009/10 in England was only 39.7 per cent. This is considerably less than most European competitors. Second home owners will need to be aware of any imminent announcements regarding any changes in waster regulations which may impact owners of second properties. Any owners of second homes can contribute to the consultation which closes on 14 January 2011.
Contrary to previous press reports highlighting an increased burden on second homeowners, DEFRA clarified that any plans would not impact ordinary households. However it did go on to clarify that owners of second homes (rented out for more than 140 days per year) should be paying business rates and should have their waste treated like any other business. In addition it noted that taxpayers should not have to pay for businesses waste collection. It is not clear what proportion of second home owners are currently being charged as a non domestic user. Clearly a clarification of the rules would ensure that second home owners are not a burden on local authorities budgets, if they all foul of any new regulations.
In December there was also political pressure from some MPs who would like to start forcing second homeowners to pay council tax at a full rate and not a discounted rate. These potential expenses represent an additional overhead for second home owners who are already struggling with difficulties in remortgaging and face the imminent threat of rising interest rates. Many overseas second homeowners are already considering selling their property due to uncertainties regarding the stability of sterling and the difficulties in attracting tenants.