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Crackdown on second home and holiday let tax dodgers

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The Government is cracking down on second home owners who claim their properties are holiday lets for tax purposes.

Communities secretary Michael Gove is set to close a tax loophole which has allowed second home owners to avoid thousands of pounds per year in taxes, without proving that the property was ever rented out. 

The new rules will target those who register their holiday lets as small businesses, meaning they are eligible for business rates instead of council tax.

But the majority pay no business rates at all under the system, because they have ‘rateable values’ of under £12,000 based on the property’s rents, size and usage. 

Crackdown: Those registering second homes as businesses could fall foul of new rules

Crackdown: Those registering second homes as businesses could fall foul of new rules

A second home can be registered as a small business if it will be available as a holiday let for 140 days or more in the coming year.  

However, there is currently no requirement to provide evidence that a property has actually been let out, leaving the system open to abuse. 

This has caused anger in areas that have lots of second homes, such as Devon, Cornwall and the Lake District, as some locals believe property owners are not paying their fair share towards council services.

According to Ray Boulger of mortgage broker John Charcol: ‘Some 97 per cent of the 65,000 holiday let properties in England have rateable values of under £12,000, which means they qualify for small business rates relief and pay no rates at all.’

The new rules aim to change this by ensuring that only those properties which are actually rented out for 70 days per year, and available to rent for 140 days, get the tax break. 

Kurt Jansen, director of the Tourism Alliance said: ‘It makes a very important distinction between commercial self-catering businesses that provide revenue and employment for local communities, and holiday homes which lie vacant for most of the year.’

This is Money explains how the new system will work, and how second home and holiday let owners can make sure they are following the rules. 

Locals in UK holiday spots have expressed anger at second home owners, who they say are not contributing their fair share to the community and services via council tax payments

Locals in UK holiday spots have expressed anger at second home owners, who they say are not contributing their fair share to the community and services via council tax payments

What do the new rules say? 

The rules are based on the amount of days a property is rented out in each tax year. 

To qualify for business rates instead of council tax, the new legislation will require second home owners to prove their property will be available for ‘commercial short term, self-catering rentals’ for at least 140 days in the coming year. 

They will also need to prove that, in the previous year, it was available for letting for 140 days and actually rented out for at least 70 days. 

This is designed to prevent second home owners from registering their properties as small businesses, and then not actually renting them out.  

‘We will not stand by and allow people in privileged positions to abuse the system by unfairly claiming tax relief and leaving local people counting the cost,’ said Gove when he announced the policy. 

‘The action we are taking will create a fairer system, ensuring that second homeowners are contributing their share to the local services they benefit from.’

Anger among locals has increased since the start of the pandemic, as wealthy people snapped up UK holiday lets when travelling abroad was not allowed. 

Exempt: As they are assessed differently to bricks and mortar properties, caravans being used as holiday lets will not come under the government's new second home tax rules

Exempt: As they are assessed differently to bricks and mortar properties, caravans being used as holiday lets will not come under the government’s new second home tax rules

What counts as a holiday let?  

The business rates rules for holiday lets only apply to buildings, or self-contained parts of buildings, that would otherwise be assessed for council tax. 

Caravans will not generally be subject to the rules, as they are usually assessed for business rates under a different system to bricks and mortar buildings. 

When it comes to counting the days that a property was rented out, the government says that only days where the property was occupied at the end of the day should be included.

So if a property was let out from Friday evening to Sunday morning, it would have been let for two days for the purposes of meeting the holiday lets criteria.

Is this definitely going ahead, and when will the rules come into force?

The government has concluded its consultation on the new policy, which started before the pandemic in 2018. It plans to implement the changes from 1 April 2023. 

However, the legislation needed to do so has not yet been passed in parliament.

While the government has made clear its intention to enshrine the new rules in law, they are not set in stone just yet. 

How much would I pay under each system?

Small businesses can find their rateable value on the Government website. 

Those with a rateable value of below £12,000 are not eligible for business rates, while those with a value of up to £15,000 pay special tapered rates. 

For those with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, they will need to multiply that value by 49.9p to find out their rateable value. They can then subtract any discounts that they may be entitled to, which the government details here

Those with a rateable value of more than £51,000 will follow the same calculation, but with a higher multiple of 51.2p.  

As for council tax, second homes are charged at the same rate as main residences. 

Individual councils may decide to give a discount for second homes, or on homes that have been empty for two years. Owners should contact their council to find out if this is available.

Under the new rules, the government has said there will be no rate or council tax discount for those with lots of properties.  

What if I have a new holiday let with no proof of lettings for last year?

Those acquiring a new holiday let and wanting to register for business rates will not be able to prove that their property was available to let for 140 days and actually let for 70 days in the past year, as required by the new rules. 

Until the owner can provide that proof, they will be subject to council tax – meaning most will need to pay that for at least the first year of their ownership. 

After that, they can ask the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) for a business rates assessment. 

This is the government body that handles everything to do with business rates, and it will be responsible for policing the new rules once they come in to force. 

Don't lie low: Property owners who don't think their property meets the new letting rules, but who are paying business rates, are advised to inform the VOA as soon as possible

Don’t lie low: Property owners who don’t think their property meets the new letting rules, but who are paying business rates, are advised to inform the VOA as soon as possible

I don’t think my property will meet the criteria for last year. What should I do?

Some holiday let or second home owners will not be able to prove that their property was available to let for 140 days and actually let for 70 days in the past year. 

The government says people in this position ‘should notify the VOA as soon as possible, so that their property can be assessed as domestic and revert accordingly to (or be given) a council tax valuation.’ 

It adds that failure to do so could result in a large, backdated council tax bill.

How will it be policed?

When seeking a new business rates valuation after April 2023, second home owners will need to provide evidence that their property was let or available to let for the required periods.  

The government has said will communicate the exact method for collecting evidence before the new rules come into effect.

However, this is expected to include things like the property being listed on rental websites, and evidence of payments from guests.  

‘Evidence of lettings will be required, such as at least one website or brochure used to advertise the property and letting details and receipts,’ says Boulger. 

Those already paying business rates on their holiday let or second home, and who meet the letting requirements, do not need to submit anything. 

However, they should ensure that they have evidence of the last year’s lettings by April 2023, as the VOA may ask for them at any time. 

‘The only impact the new rules will have on genuine holiday let properties might be the need to provide the evidence outlined above, but this information should be readily available for the owner’s tax return,’ says Boulger. 

What if the property is used by family and friends?

Those who regularly allow family and friends to use their properties for free could find they are no longer eligible to register as a small business under the new rules. 

The government says lettings counted in the 70-day period must be on a ‘commercial basis’ at ‘market rates’ and that ‘lettings to friends or relatives at zero or nominal rents will not be covered.’ 

No more mates rates? Money will need to change hands when the property is let, or it will not be counted as a holiday letting under the government's new 70-day rule

No more mates rates? Money will need to change hands when the property is let, or it will not be counted as a holiday letting under the government’s new 70-day rule

Of course, if there are 70 days of commercial lettings on top of discounted ones to friends and family, this will not be a problem.  

Boulger says owners should still be able to rent to people they know at a small discount as part of the 70 days, for example if they are deducting the fees that a listings website would normally charge for a letting via their platform. 

‘It should not prevent the owner offering a reasonable discount to family on friends if, for example, they can avoid the normal commission otherwise payable to the sites advertising their property,’ he says.    

What are the rules outside of England?

Wales has already had similar rules for holiday lets in place since 2010, and the new legislation will bring England in line with those.

The Scottish government is also set to introduce a requirement that holiday lets are rented for 70 days and available for 140 days in a given year, following a consultation called the Barclay Review. 

These rules are set to come into force from 1 April 2022. 

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Amanda Holden puts her five bedroom Surrey home on the market for £5million

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Amanda Holden has put her Surrey mansion on the market for £5million after giving the luxurious property a showbiz makeover.

The Britain’s Got Talent judge, 51, is hoping to make a £1.5million profit having splashed out £3.5m on the five-bedroom home seven years ago.

The detached home boasts its own bar, huge 30ft by 27ft living room, stylish kitchen diner and a hot tub, where Amanda has posed for several bikini pictures she’s posted on her Instagram page.

Amanda Holden (pictured) has put one of her family homes on the market seven years after she bought it for £3.5million 

The star often posts pictures on Instagram of her beautiful home, which she has been given a fabulous renovation by the star

The star often posts pictures on Instagram of her beautiful home, which she has been given a fabulous renovation by the star

The huge open-plan living room also displays eye-catching artwork, including a giant painting of a female astronaut and a £30,000 drawing by the Connor Brothers of a sultry woman in a silver dress smoking a cigarette

 The huge open-plan living room also displays eye-catching artwork, including a giant painting of a female astronaut and a £30,000 drawing by the Connor Brothers of a sultry woman in a silver dress smoking a cigarette

A source said: ‘Amanda loves her family home and is really proud of the work she’s done on it.

‘She’s had a real hand in the makeover and has enjoyed seeing her ideas come to life.

‘It will be a sad day when she moves out but Amanda can take comfort in the number of memories she’s created there.’

Amanda lives in the property with record producer husband Chris Hughes and their two daughters Lexi, 16, and Hollie, 10. 

After buying the home in 2015, herself and Chris described the mansion as their ‘forever home’ and Amanda admitted ‘badgering’ its former owner to sell it to them for years until they finally relented.

The couple also own a holiday home in the Cotswolds, which they have been renovating over the past year.

Heart FM DJ Amanda has spoken of her love of interior design

Heart FM DJ Amanda has spoken of her love of interior design

Amanda recently added a glamorous outhouse to the Surrey property where another bar and the hot tub are located, set upon a large wooden decking area, close to a palm tree she planted in honour of Sir Captain Tom Moore.

The garden room also includes a log burner and comfy sofas, which Amanda says are perfect for a ‘sneaky afternoon disco nap.’

The Heart FM DJ renovated her bespoke Wilson Fink kitchen during lockdown, adding new cupboards and worktops, plus mirrored tiles on the walls.

She also has three disco ball-style lights, worth £850 each, hanging over her breakfast bar.

And her quirky taste is exemplified by pineapple-themed accessories dotted around the property, including dark navy and pineapple-print wallpaper and a £125 Graham and Green pineapple lamp.

The huge open-plan living room also displays eye-catching artwork, including a giant painting of a female astronaut and a £30,000 drawing by the Connor Brothers of a sultry woman in a silver dress smoking a cigarette under the caption ‘If you haven’t got anything nice to say come sit next to me.’

The mansion, which includes five bedrooms, three bathrooms and a study, is located behind two sets of private gates which lead onto a private road towards the house.

The driveway is big enough to hold several cars, which is convenient when Amanda hosts her showbiz parties.

Speaking about her home to House Beautiful, Amanda revealed it was important their Surrey property didn’t feel like ‘a show home’

She said: ‘We have two little girls and don’t want them feeling that they’re treading on eggshells.’

Amanda’s passion for interior design has led to her landing a new TV show with pal Alan Carr in which the pair be doing up a property in Italy.

The series will air on the BBC after she pitched the idea to the broadcaster.

Amanda admits herself and husband Chris have so many clothes, they turned a room into a walk-in wardrobe – inspired by her favourite TV show.

She says: ‘I’m a huge Sex And The City fan and Chris did a Mr Big and turned a whole room into my wardrobe.

‘Except, he didn’t leave a pair of Manolos at the end… but he arranged everything else. It’s something I’ve always dreamt of.

‘There’s a remote-controlled mirror that goes up and down and lights up – it’s amazing.’

The star has taken to Instagram and posted photos of her on dreamy summer evenings relaxing her garden which includes a hot tub set upon a large wooden decking area, close to a palm tree she planted in honour of Sir Captain Tom Moore

The star has taken to Instagram and posted photos of her on dreamy summer evenings relaxing her garden which includes a hot tub set upon a large wooden decking area, close to a palm tree she planted in honour of Sir Captain Tom Moore

Speaking about her efforts to lovingly renovate her home, house proud Amanda explained: 'I am house proud, but I've got two kids, two dogs and a cat, so it's a family house. Everything is washable and wipeable.'

Speaking about her efforts to lovingly renovate her home, house proud Amanda explained: ‘I am house proud, but I’ve got two kids, two dogs and a cat, so it’s a family house. Everything is washable and wipeable.’

The buyer lucky enough to be able to afford Amanda's sprawling home will be able to relax in this stunning stand alone bath

The buyer lucky enough to be able to afford Amanda’s sprawling home will be able to relax in this stunning stand alone bath

The en-suite bathroom is just off the master bedroom where Amanda has frequently posted enviable pictures on her socials

The en-suite bathroom is just off the master bedroom where Amanda has frequently posted enviable pictures on her socials

And the TV favourite also concedes she’s a clean freak, meaning every service on the ground floor can be wiped fresh.

Speaking to The Mirror, she explained: ‘I am house proud, but I’ve got two kids, two dogs and a cat, so it’s a family house. Everything is washable and wipeable.

‘It’s so open plan my littlest can cycle her bike around. ‘I don’t have carpets on the ground floor – and this is disgusting – but I was doing an interview a while ago and my puppy pooed on the floor during the chat.

‘But you don’t worry if you have wooden floors. Two words: wipe clean.’

Amanda, who designed a homeware range for shopping network QVC, is so into interior design she believes it could eventually become a day job – if she ever loses her looks.

She added: ‘I want this to be a legacy. When my face falls off and all the telly work dries up, this is actually where I want to be.’ 

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Russian TV host refuses to apologise for report on mock nuclear attack on Ireland

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The Russian state television host who broadcast a graphic of a simulated nuclear attack destroying Ireland has rejected a request from Taoiseach Micheál Martin to apologise for the programme.

In a follow-up report broadcast on state-owned television channel Russia-1 on Sunday night, television host Dmitry Kiselyov refused to apologise for the animated graphic broadcast earlier this month showing a nuclear strike off the Irish coast erasing Ireland and Britain from the map.

On Sunday’s programme, Kiselyov, a Kremlin supporter and state propagandist, described Ireland as “collateral damage” in a potential nuclear attack by Russia on the UK in any escalation of tensions between the countries over Russia’s war on Ukraine.

While distinguishing between Ireland, a neutral country, and the UK, Kiselyov repeated the assertion in the original report that “the whole British archipelago was basically a sinkable island” and that Russia has “every capability for such a nuclear retaliation”.

Referring to Irish political and public reaction to the original report broadcast at the start of this month, the Russian TV host said: “Ireland literally flew into a rage. Of course as a neutral country, it wasn’t nice for Ireland to become collateral damage in Britain’s clash with Russia.”

The news report, according to a translation tweeted by the BBC digital journalist Francis Scarr who monitors Russian state television, quoted the Taoiseach describing the Russian media report as “very sinister, intimidatory tactics by the Russian Federation”.

“I don’t think anyone’s going to be intimidated by it. I think it reflects a mindset that is worrying and not in touch with reality. I think there should be an apology forthcoming,” the Taoiseach was quoted as saying on the Russian programme against a photograph of Mr Martin.

Kiselyov said he completely agreed that an apology should be forthcoming but that it should come from British prime minister Boris Johnson, falsely claiming that the UK leader had made a “groundless threat to strike Russia” that had led to the original report and simulated attack.

“But we’re not intimidating anyone. Talking about capabilities has an anti-war modality. As they say, let’s not start. It will end badly. It’s better to live in peace,” said Kiselyov.

Fianna Fáil MEP for Ireland South Billy Kelleher said the Russian state-owned station still owed an apology to the Taoiseach and the Irish people over the report and mock attack.

He described the Russia presenter as “a mouthpiece” for Russian leader Vladimir Putin and that “anything said by him were effectively the official views from the Kremlin”.

“It shows how delusional their foreign policy is. It shows how removed they are from understanding what neutral countries are,” he said.

“It is indicative of Russia’s view of the world and how they believe they can obliterate a nation if they feel that is necessary to protect themselves even if there is no threat coming from Ireland.”

The reports on the Russian national broadcaster were “outrageous”, “completely unacceptable” and “indicative of the delusional state of the entire Putin regime,” he said.

“We simply cannot have what are official media outlets relaying huge threats to wipe Ireland off the face of the earth, a neutral country that has never once threatened Russia,” he said.

Labour Party foreign affairs spokesman Brendan Howlin TD described the host’s comments as “both delusional and menacing on a number of fronts”, including how the television station was conflating Ireland and Britain.

“Ireland is a neutral country but as the people of Ireland have very ably demonstrated in the last two months, we are not neutral in relation to the illegal and immoral assault on the people of Ukraine by Putin,” he said.

“We will not be intimidated by grandiose, farcical threats emanating from Russia. This is not a comic book; this is a painful reality for millions of Ukrainians.”



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Sirius Real Estate sells London business park for €18.8m (GB)

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Sirius Real Estate has agreed to the sale of an asset in Camberwell, London, for €18.8m (£16m), representing a NIY of circa 2%. The property formed part of the portfolio Sirius acquired in November 2021 with its purchase of BizSpace, the leading provider of regional light industrial, workshop, studio and out of town office units across the UK. The sale price represents a 94% premium to the valuation at the time of Sirius’ acquisition of BizSpace.

 

The multi-tenanted business park, which comprises approximately 34,700ft² of industrial and office space is 91% occupied following a series of asset management measures delivered through the BizSpace platform. The sale is expected to complete in July 2022.

 

Commenting on the transaction, Andrew Coombs, Chief Executive Officer of Sirius Real Estate, said: “This disposal is further proof of the latent value in the BizSpace portfolio we acquired late last year, the price being significantly ahead of last September’s valuation on which our purchase was based, and the attractive sale follows our recent announcement that we had since improved like-for-like rental income across the portfolio by 7.5%. The sale will allow us to invest in new opportunities for BizSpace in the UK as we continue to build our acquisition pipeline. Bringing together the Sirius and BizSpace platforms, with a strengthened management team at BizSpace, is already delivering strong results and operational synergies that will enhance our UK portfolio.”

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