Welsh Government promises council tax clarity to holiday chalet owners

Chalet owners say they should not pay council tax because they can't live in their properties Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The Welsh Government is promising further clarity for owners of holiday chalets who say they shouldn’t be paying council tax on their properties because they’re not allowed to live in them permanently.

A senior Welsh minister told Senedd Members that they should be exempt but would seek clarity.

But campaigners say they continue to be charged and now face even higher bills as part of attempts to clamp down on second and empty homes.

The minister’s response came after the issue was raised in the Senedd by the Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies.

He asked the Trefnydd, or business minister, for a statement after meeting some of the chalet owners.

In the chamber he said that, “It was my understanding that these types of properties should never be captured by the council tax scheme, and, indeed, should not be captured by the enhanced uplift of the council tax scheme in the regulations to try and prevent second home ownership.

Andrew RT Davies raised concerns of chalet owners in the Senedd

“They gave hard-and-fast examples to me of how the planning system designates chalet owners as not being able to turn those properties into residential properties, and there's a clear distinction between them and someone who actually owns a residential property and can call it their home.

“But they gave me hard-and-fast examples of chalet owners having to pay council tax in some local authority areas, and there did seem some ambiguity in relation to the way some local authorities are interpreting the powers that they've got.

“They indicated that they believe that about 5,000 chalet owners exist in Wales and some are being discriminated against through the new regulations.

“To bring clarity to this, could the Government bring a statement forward to exactly emphasise the guidance that they give to local authorities, and the expectation that the Government has upon those local authorities of acting within the rules that, as I said, as I understand it, chalet ownership shouldn't be captured under the council tax regulations?”

Trefnydd Lesley Griffiths promised to ask for a written statement

In response the Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths, said “I was a bit unclear when you started whether you were referring to park homes, but I think you are indeed referring to chalets, which do have an exemption, as far as I'm aware.

“I will certainly ask the Minister for Finance and Local Government to issue a written statement to give that clarity to everyone.”

ITV Wales reported on this issue earlier this year when I met owners Abigail Davies and Julie Draper who have recently sold their holiday chalets in Ceredigion, in part because of the council tax problem - but who want to highlight the issue facing current owners. 

They told me that as well as not being allowed to live in a chalet for any length of time, people are unable to work from there - nor can you access local services such as schools, GPs or rubbish collection. 

Abigail told me, "They're built from wood. They they've always had planning conditions on them to be a holiday home. 

Abigail Davies and Julie Draper have now sold their holiday chalets in Ceredigion partly because of the looming council tax premium.

"To buy a chalet, you have to show your council tax from your permanent home, otherwise you can't buy one. So it's not ever been part of the housing stock. It's also on a holiday park. 

"You are renting the ground that it sits on. It's not a freehold, it's not a leasehold. It's a site license. You're paying ground rent of about £4,000. You're also then paying the council tax and now you're also paying the premium.”

The council tax premium which came into force in April gives local authorities the power to increase bills on second homes by as much as 300%.

It’s aimed at bringing down the number of mostly-empty properties in popular coastal and rural areas and make it more affordable for local people to remain in communities where there are currently a lot of second homes.

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