VIEWS are being sought on potential changes to council taxes which could be used to tackle the impact of large numbers of second homes and holiday in parts of Wales.

The Welsh Government consultation on council tax and non-domestic rates is part of a summer of action launched by climate change minister Julie James last month to address the problems around second home ownership, including the availability of housing and the sustainability of the Welsh language.

While second home owners and people who stay in holiday lets can make an important contribution to our local economies, we want to ensure all homeowners and businesses make a fair contribution to the communities in which they own or let property.

The consultation, which takes place for 12 weeks, will seek views on the maximum level at which local authorities can set council tax premiums on second homes and long-term empty properties and the criteria for a property to be defined as non domestic, self-catering accommodation.

Wales is still the only UK nation to give local authorities the power to introduce a 100 per cent council tax premium on both second homes and long-term empty homes, which are empty for more than a year. Two authorities, Gwynedd and Swansea, have set the premium at the maximum level of 100 per cent on second homes from April 1.

This additional income can be used to address issues affecting the supply of affordable housing or for the provision of public services and other facilities such as public transport.

The consultation also seeks views on the circumstances in which properties are classed as self-catering businesses and are listed for non-domestic rates.

Currently all occupied small business properties below a specified rateable value, including self-catering units, are eligible for Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR), subject to a limit of two properties per business per local authority.

This consultation considers the criteria for defining properties as non-domestic self catering accommodation and whether different thresholds are needed.

Rebecca Evans, finance and local government minister, said: “We want to hear from people living in communities affected by these issues as well as owners of second homes and holiday lets, trade representatives of the self-catering and tourism industry, and local authorities.

“We anticipate receiving a wide range of responses which will all inform our future policies on potential changes to local taxes so that we have a fairer system for everyone.”

Julie James, climate change minister, said: “We cherish our reputation in Wales as a welcoming, bilingual society in which tourism and current second home owners have a contribution to make. However we also recognise the impact that higher numbers of second homes and self-catered holiday lets can have on local housing and rental markets and on the sustainability of local communities.

"In some areas they may compromise the sustainability of Welsh as a community language."

Jeremy Miles, minister for education and the Welsh language, said: “Ensuring that local people can live in the communities in which they grew up and maintaining the health and vitality of Welsh as a thriving community language, are top priorities for the Welsh Government.”

Premiums are being paid on more than 15,800 of the 24,900 second homes liable for council tax in Wales and on 7,300 of the 25,700 long-term empty properties.

The remaining second homes and long-term empty properties are either in authorities which have chosen not to apply a premium or are in one of the classes which cannot be charged a premium. However, they continue to be liable for council tax at the standard rate.

There were 9,500 self-catering holiday lets on the non domestic rating list in April, including purpose-built units.

For a property to be defined as self-catering accommodation and classified as non-domestic for local taxation purposes:

• The property will be available for letting commercially as self-catering accommodation for short periods totalling 140 days or more in the following 12 month period.

• The ratepayer’s interest in the property enables them to let it for such periods.

• In the 12 months prior to assessment, the property has been available for letting commercially as self-catering accommodation for short periods totalling 140 days or more.

• The short periods it has actually been commercially let for amounted to at least 70 days during that period.

Wales is currently the only country in the UK which requires a property to be actually let for a minimum period for it to be classed as self-catering accommodation.