The Welsh government is looking to control the number of second homes and holiday lets by handing fresh powers to local authorities.
The Local Government and Housing Committee’s report on Second Homes pledged to introduce three planning use cases for homes – a primary home, a second home and short-term holiday accommodation. Local planning authorities would be able to amend the planning system to require planning permission for change of use from one class to another. National planning policy would also be changed so local authorities can control the number of second homes and holiday lets in the community.
There are also plans to introduce a statutory licensing scheme for all visitor accommodation, including short-term holiday lets, making it a requirement to obtain a license. This is intended to raise standards across the tourism industry.
Meanwhile the government is working with local authorities to develop a national framework so they can request increased land transaction tax rates for second homes and holiday lets to be applied in their local area.
The report committed to working with private sector landlords and letting agents within the Dwyfor pilot area to increase the supply of homes for rent.
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We have a shared ambition for Wales to be a nation of thriving communities – a country where people do not have to leave to find good and rewarding work and a country which people want to come to visit and to live.
“Tourism is vital to our economy but having too many holiday properties and second homes, which are empty for much of the year, does not make for healthy local communities and prices people out of the local housing market.
“There is no single, simple solution to these issues. Any action we take must be fair. We do not want to create any unintended consequences, which could destabilise the wider housing market or make it harder for people to rent or buy.”
Propertymark has set up a working group of experts, agents, landlords and stakeholders to inform the Welsh government on reforms to the private rented sector.
The estate agency group met with the minister for climate change, Julie James, and it said the proposal for setting up a working group was ‘gratefully received’.
While such plans have not been confirmed, landlord groups fear that rent controls could be introduced in Wales.
Daryl McIntosh, policy manager at Propertymark, said: “Our conversations with the Welsh Government have been welcomed and it is good to see that they are willing to work with the sector in order to ensure that future policy is fit for purpose for all those involved.
“The Welsh Government has largely focussed on planning policy and local taxes as levers to change behaviour in the private rented sector, however, these do not directly deal with the barriers and disincentives to investment in the private rented sector.
“Our working group will now look to develop clear, targeted proposals on what action is necessary to ensure that policy both supports and incentivises investment to then be tested through the Dwyfor pilot.”