Prospective Lib Dem MP calls for a crackdown on holiday homes

MP

Prospective parliamentary candidate Julia Goldsworthy is calling on her former boss at the Treasury to include a second homes crackdown in the upcoming Autumn statement.

The former Liberal Democrat MP for Camborne and Redruth lost out by just 66 votes to Tory farming minister George Eustice in 2010 only to become a special advisor to party colleague Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury.

Now fighting to regain her seat, she has called on the senior Lib Dem to use the next announcement of spending plans to close a tax loophole which allows second home owners to pay no rates at all.

Under the existing rules,1,000 homes in Cornwall have been “flipped” to be classed as holiday lets – allowing owners to avoid paying both council tax and business rates – leaving the council £1.5 million worse off.

With about 14,500 second homes in Cornwall, the potential loss could be as high as £20 million a year and including Devon, the shortfall could reach £36 million.

Ms Goldsworthy said moves to tighten up the rules defining furnished holiday lets in the Finance Act 2011 did not go far enough and there was conflict between the tax and business rates system.

“It is clearly not fair for second home owners to pay nothing towards the services that full time residents pay for through their council tax, by claiming their property is a furnished holiday let, when in practice it is not,” she said.

In a letter to Mr Alexander ahead of the deadline for submissions on Friday, she asked for the same approach to be taken over the tax and business rates regimes.

“In practice this would mean having a single definition of a furnished holiday let, that required the property to be advertised as “available to let” for a minimum of 210 days, and actually let for 105 days per year – for both tax and business rates purposes,” she wrote.

Top tips for styling your holiday home

If you own a holiday home and want to give it that ‘holiday vibe’ there are some essentials to remember. Even if you’re only planning to rent it out occasionally, styling it well is a sure way to make a memorable impression and bring tenants back again and again to recapture the atmosphere you helped create.

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Top styling tips

Here are some top tips to use specifically when styling your holiday home:

Let your surroundings inspire you. Take a walk and absorb the colours, textures and feel of your environment. Try to incorporate those elements you love in to your holiday home.

Why do you go on holiday? Generally it’s to re-charge, rest and relax. So obviously very important to create a calming atmosphere – avoid clutter and consider using restful colours.

Appropriate lighting. Glaring, bright, artificial lights are out, use soft atmospheric lighting in. Remember, this is a retreat for you to relax and enjoy.

Think about climate. Is this a beach house or cabin in the mountains? Incorporate cooler shades of blue, green and white in hot climates, and warmer rich shades in earthy tones in cold climates. Keeping the base colours neutral will allow you to layer brighter hues and personality on top with accessories.

Storage is vital. Don’t clutter your holiday house. Make sure there are cupboards, boxes, toy boxes, hooks on walls, anything to keep the floor space and bench tops clear.

Think about furniture. The type, quality and finishes of your furniture can make a big difference to the overall feel. Will you have kids running through the house after being at the beach all day? Keep function and ease of cleaning in mind when choosing pieces. For example, storage at the front door for shoes, towels, beach toys and so on.

Choose accessories carefully. Holiday homes can be short on space compared to out residential homes. The right furniture and accessories can work for you in creating illusions of more space – go for furniture in lighter colours, use metallic finishes and mirrors to bounce light around the rooms and use minimal window coverings.

Beach theme

Most of all, have fun with your styling.

This is a space that you or your tenants won’t be in year round, so you can take more risks and step outside the box. Use some bold pieces you may feel a little nervous to use in your everyday living space.

A holiday property should be enjoyable. Or it’s not much of a holiday!

Bogus letting agents renting through Airbnb

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The owner of this flat let it out for a weekend through Airbnb. She returned to find five ‘tenants’ – who’d in total paid £8,500 in deposits and expected to move in permanently, according to The Guardian.

When Ruth Allmark found a flat in a smart part of west London where the room rent was £780 a month it looked like her dream had come true. The letting agent said the deposit would be £1,000, and told her she needed to make the payment swiftly as he had other potential renters clamouring for it.

But the dream became a nightmare after Ruth, 24, paid the £1,780. It turned out the agents were bogus. They had obtained the keys to the flat by renting it off its owner through the website Airbnb for the weekend only, placed an advert on SpareRoom.co.uk saying it was available for long-term rent – and then fleeced anyone who came to see it.

Usually an Airbnb renter returns home to find their property in perfect order. But the owner of the flat, in Kensington Gardens Square, returned to find various “tenants” knocking at her door and expecting to move in permanently. In total, five people were scammed, netting the fraudsters £8,500.

Read the full story at guardian.com

Sydney council threatens home owners with $1million fines for renting out rooms, could this happen in London

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Sydney property owners are being threatened with fines of more than $1 million for renting out rooms in their homes through short-term accommodation sites such as Airbnb.

Others, like Newtown resident Lynn Stanton, have been instructed to apply to become bed and breakfasts – a process which may include expensive upgrades like fitting commercial kitchens – as councils grapple with how to regulate a growing online economy that connects home owners with holidaymakers.

It is a growing trend that started in New York and is now extending to other major cities around the world a topic we highlighted recently in a previous blog regarding a town in Spain.

Is this something that could happen in London if the major hotels flexed their muscle and money especially with the major elections due within a year.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/councils-threaten-home-owners-with-1-million-fine-for-renting-rooms-20140926-10mchq.html#ixzz3EzXmvxDw

Where is the most lucrative place to buy a holiday home?

Horsham, West Sussex, the most lucrative place to buy a holiday home

Horsham, West Sussex, the most lucrative place to buy a holiday home


Well the winner is Horsham in West Sussex

According to a new survey by Holidaycottages.com, holiday cottages in the South East proved the most profitable with rental yields of 11.3 per cent and an annual house price increase of 12.2 per cent.

Properties in the East, East Midlands and South West were ranked second, third and fourth respectively.

It then looked more closely at profitability of holiday cottages of counties, and found that after West Sussex, the Isle of Wight had the highest investment index, followed by Hampshire and Oxfordshire.

The website calculated rental yields by assuming the cottages would be rented out for 20 weeks every year, would pay a 30 per cent commission to an agency and would sleep six to ten people – the most common category.

Hoseasons launches luxury UK self catering brand

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A new range of luxury breaks designed to appeal to holiday park customers looking for that little bit extra has been unveiled as the latest specialist innovation from domestic holiday brand Hoseasons.

Due to launch at the start of next year, Bouja will offer families, friends and couples the very best in affordable luxury getaways at six stunning countryside and coastal locations across Devon, Wales and Hampshire.

With hot tubs at each location and every holiday home featuring a deck, patio or private garden, as well as a flat-screen TV with iPod docking station, Hoseasons managing director, Simon Altham, said Bouja breaks will set a new quality standard when it comes to great value UK holidays.

As the UK self catering market gets more competitive the larger brands are investing heavily to bring affordable luxury to a wider market

Top quality towels, linens and mattresses come as standard on a Bouja break, as do contemporary interiors, chunky outdoor beanbags and games consoles.

Barbeques are also included where available, and all Bouja customers will receive a complimentary welcome pack and personal greeting.

Bike hire, nature trails, and great quality bistros and restaurants will all be offered nearby, while quirkier style ‘amazing spaces’ will be provided by the designer Bouja Boutique – an extension to the range featuring accommodation such as beach-hut-style coastal lodges.

Hotel industry against holiday rentals

New restrictions on self-catering accommodation could push up the cost of holidays to dozens of popular European destinations, travellers have been warned.

Authorities in Germany, Spain and France are considering new laws to prevent homeowners from renting out their properties on short-term contracts. As well as forcing thousands of holidaymakers to opt for more expensive hotel accommodation, the proposals may also prevent many Britons from letting out their overseas apartments.

In Spain, hotels are pushing for new laws to push out holiday rentals all together, with a campaign call ‘not for rent’ a campaign against holiday rentals.

Airbnb extends it’s services to more then just accommodation

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Airbnb is planning to extend its offering beyond spare room, flat or house rentals to offer city tours and experiences.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, CEO Brian Chesky said he wants Airbnb to be seen as a hospitality brand, rather than simply a site for cheap rooms.

“We think there’s huge opportunities for other services on top of accommodation. If I’m coming to London, what do I do in London? We think we have an opportunity to enhance your trip and enhance your experience,” he said.

It is expected that the new service would allow locals to sell tours and other experiences, although the plans are still under development.

Airbnb has grown massively since it was founded in 2008. In London alone, there are now 13,000 Airbnb listings, making it an ever growing competitor to the hotel and B&B industry in the capital.

However, the British Hospitality Association has voiced its concerns over Airbnb.

“We are very concerned that large numbers of private homes are being let on a semi or even permanent basis to tourists because it’s unlikely that any of these properties have ever had any fire risk or health and safety checks,” said Jackie Grech, legal and policy director at the BHA

Chesky agreed that there needs to be new laws to regulate individuals in the ‘sharing economy’.

If you are thinking about selling your holiday home, you’ll need to do those improvements first

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Holiday home owners who ignore improvements, put off general repairs and don’t bother to update old décor risk are risking getting a much lower price should they decided to sell, it is claimed.
A study of 2,000 holiday home owners in advance of the annual post summer rush to sell holiday homes, has found that 53% of British holiday home owners have a lackadaisical attitude towards maintenance of their property compared with a more house proud approach to their main home.

‘The allure of time away from the grind for the quarter of a million Brits who own holiday homes in the UK and beyond, means the usual keeping up with the Jones behaviour is abandoned, and household snags that would usually irritate at home, are overlooked,’ said John Candia, chief executive officer of online property portal the iProperty Company which carried out the survey.

While 100% of participants said they bought their holiday home with every intention of improving it, some 79% admitted they hadn’t so much as picked up a paintbrush since their first holiday even although 58% said that they visit their holiday home at least four times a year with some going as often as once a month.

Top household horrors overlooked included broken toilets, floral carpets, mismatched sofas, leaking taps and avocado bathroom suites. Other décor faux pas that have slipped down the priority list include net curtains, odd and novelty crockery and flocked wallpaper. A typical holiday sloth is also guilty of having out of date tinned foods in their holiday home and will rarely wash up straight after a meal, dust shelves or mow the lawn.

Nearly a quarter of respondents admitted to having ignored light bulbs that needed changing, 33% said their homes needed a lick of paint and 67% revealed missing doorknobs and/or handles on drawers.

Top reasons for such apathy given by survey participants were wanting to do nothing while on their hard earned break, the reduced threat of an uninvited visitor and continual procrastination leading to a next time we will do it type of attitude.

Those who plan on selling should have a major clear out and consider redecorating as well as using professional cleaners as this will add significant sales value if you can´t face doing it yourself. Also, holiday homes tend to end up as depository for ugly and unwanted items and owners should be ruthless.

How to buy a holiday home and become part of the local community

Its is the perfect time to look at investing in rural holiday homes but part of that investment has to be the time to become part of the community that the property you buy is located in.

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It is only until recently that second home owners have left community villages like ghost towns in winter when the DFL’s (down from London) leave their properties empty until summer and this naturally caused resentment amongst locals.

According to the Daily Telegraph, owners would whizz down on a Friday night and then back on a Monday morning contributing nothing to the village growth, future or community.

They dressed all wrong, they flashed their cash, they spoke Estuary English at the top of their voices, and they couldn’t tell one end of a cow from another. In a word, they were a menace. All that may now be changing, however. The grumbling has not completely stopped, but there now seems to be a more widespread acceptance that people owning second homes are a fact of modern life, and not an exclusively West Country problem.

“I have lived in the West Country for 15 years and in my experience the majority of locals appreciate the contribution that second-home owners make to the economy,” says Edward Heaton of Heaton and Partners. “But there is certainly a small but vociferous minority who object to the fact that they are being priced out of the villages in which they grew up and forced to move to bigger towns and cities such as Plymouth.”

The further west you go, the more vociferous that resentful majority becomes, says Heaton. A mere whisper of dissatisfaction in Wiltshire becomes something of a rant in Penzance. Indeed, local misgivings about second-home owners came to a head in 2012, when Cornwall county council became the first in the country to scrap council tax discounts for second homes.
It also introduced an additional tax on homes that had stood empty for two years.

In a county often referred to as the second-home capital of Britain, this stance was understandable. Some five per cent of those resident in Cornwall are second-home owners, according to a 2011 census. But this figure rockets in the most sought-after coastal villages. In the parish of St Minver Lowlands, near Rock, for instance, second-home owners account for 41.9 per cent of the population.
Some of the resulting social problems – notably the distortion of the local housing market – were well documented. So why not hit these well-off outsiders where it hurts – in the pocket?

Farmers market
But even in Cornwall, attitudes seem to be softening. From Newquay to Truro, there is a tacit acknowledgement that demonising second-home owners is ridiculous and self-defeating. After all, the biggest concentration of holiday homes in Britain is to be found not in Cornwall, but in London. And they themselves have also done their bit, making more effort to be immersed in their local communities.
“The high number of second-home owners did cause some angst for permanent residents, particularly when, say, post offices had to be closed because the villages were so quiet in the winter months,” says Duncan Ley of Humberts in Truro.

“But more recently, owners have become conscious of the stigma attached to them. They have made more effort to involve themselves in their villages and be contributors to the area, rather than just beneficiaries.”

Nigel Stubbs, director of Jackson-Stops and Staff in Truro, has also noticed a change in attitudes. “The buyers who stick out and have difficulty assimilating into their communities tend to be the ones who buy multimillion-pound properties on the outskirts of villages, or on the waterfront.

“The ones who integrate better are the people who buy with a view to moving to the area permanently in later life. It is in their interest to put down stable roots and play an active part in the community.”
One of the greatest concentrations of holiday homes in Cornwall is in the picturesque fishing village of Mousehole. Once a backwater, it is now becoming a cosmopolitan community, so much so that it has been likened to fashionable Padstow, in the north of the county.

Dylan Thomas spent his honeymoon in the Lobster Pot in Mousehole in the Thirties and no doubt drank the village dry. But times have changed. The hotel, where David Bowie once stayed, has been converted into luxury apartments – typifying what some would regard as the malign impact of holiday homes.
For administrative purposes, Mousehole is in the parish of Penzance, so the proportion of second homes is notionally only around five per cent, the average for the county. But in the heart of the village, it is very much higher – not that all the locals seem to be complaining.

“There was certainly a time when Mousehole had suffered because of the surfeit of holiday-home owners, but you wouldn’t say that today,” says David Marshall of Marshall’s estate agents. “What has been gratifying has been the way year-round living has slowly returned to the village.”
Phoenix Cottage, on the market for £289,950, is typical of the present crop of Mousehole properties. “The current owners have used it for holiday lets, andit has been renovated with that in mind,” says Marshall.

“Some of these houses letfor 40 or more weeks a year, so they can be good investments.But there has been a definite trend towards second homesthat are semi-permanent residences.”
To an extent, the two markets overlap. Many owners derive some rental income from their properties without necessarily viewing them as full-time buy-to-let investments. But the balance is shifting.
With more people working from home, at least part of the time, the old straitjacket of Monday-to-Friday jobs has been relaxed. “We see people whose main place of work may be London, but who are able to spend three or four days a week in Cornwall,” adds Marshall. “That affects the way they view the locals – and the way the locals view them.”

The challenges facing second-home owners in Cornwall are replicated across the West Country. And, everywhere, the second-home owners raising fewest hackles are the ones who make the most visible commitment to the area.

Kevin Underwood of Webbers in Barnstaple has seen an upsurge in what he calls “stepping stone” buyers. These are people moving in, getting a feel for the area and, after a period as semi-residents, converting their second home into their main home.

“They connect with their communities and build up a network of genuine friends. It is clear to me that this trend has accelerated in the last few years. More and more purchasers are determined to make a positive contribution to the area and support local businesses.”

Underwood cites a Midlands-based developer who bought a large property in Woolacombe, on the north Devon coast, and converted it into apartments, using local builders.
With the property market in the West Country recovering, interest in second homes seems likely to be on the increase. And, unlike 10 or 15 years ago, buyers from outside the area need no longer feel they are entering bandit country, likely to attract scowls from the locals.

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All they will need, if they want to win acceptance, is patience, tact and a healthy dose of realism.
Londoner Georgina Clark has just bought a weekend retreat in Tisbury, Wiltshire, and has no illusions that she will be welcomed with open arms everywhere she goes.

“Yes, holiday-home owners are good for local businesses and we boost the turnover of pubs and restaurants. But then sometimes the pubs put their prices up, which the locals sometimes resent.”
Luckily, Georgina has local roots, and her parents live nearby, so she will have no trouble fading into the background. And for anyone contemplating buyinga second home in the West Country, she has one bit of advice: “If you bought a second homein France, you would need to speak French if you wanted toget on the right side of your neighbours.

“The same principle applies in Wiltshire, where the locals use the dialect word ‘grockles’ to describe non-locals. Just go into the village shop, smile sweetly and say, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not a grockle,’ and you will be all right.”