The pandemic has led to a boom in "staycationing", with prices for holiday accommodation rocketing in tourist hotspots, and many seeking to capitalise by converting their second homes into holiday lets.
New figures from the government’s Valuation Office Agency, provided by property experts Altus Group, show there were 2,923 holiday lets in Northumberland trading as businesses at the end of May – 674 more than in mid-March 2020, before the onset of coronavirus.
The figures cover second homes which are registered as commercial premises – meaning they must be made available for at least 140 days each year – but does not include other second homes used for private holiday lets.
Groups have highlighted the increased pressure of the uptick in tourism on some communities – particularly those in rural and coastal areas – such as increased rent and stretched local services
Across England and Wales, nearly 20,000 new homes have been newly registered as holiday lets over the course of the pandemic. There are now 83,342 nationally.
Altus Group says the national rise may be due to people ‘flipping’ their second homes – converting them into holiday lets to avoid paying council tax.
Owners of holiday lets in England can claim 100% business rates relief if the property has a rateable value of up to £12,000, and will also not have to pay council tax. They do not need to prove the property has actually been let out to claim the tax break.
In January the government announced it was clamping down on the holiday let tax loophole, telling second homeowners they will have to prove their properties are rented out for a minimum of 70 days a year in order to access small business rates relief.
Records from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities from September 2021 show there were 3,538 properties registered as second homes for council tax purposes in Northumberland.