Our picturesque seaside town is ruined by second-home owners – they rent them out 'on the sly' to avoid paying tax | The Sun

LOCALS say picturesque seaside town is being ruined by second-home owners who rent them out “on the sly” so they can avoid paying tax.

Owners of second homes in Salcombe, Devon, have been told by the local council they have to pay a commercial waste charge if they rent out their properties as holiday homes.

Failing to comply with the South Hams District Council could see the owners slapped with a £300 on-the-spot fine if they are caught trying to swerve the rules.

The council has already sent out 2,000 letters warning part-time residents they face punishments if they are caught using street litter bins or council bottle banks without paying the “bin tax”.

It is already poised to double council tax on second homes while holiday homes registered as businesses with see corporation tax rise from 19 per cent to 25 per cent this year.

Many local residents back the moves by the council.

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They say huge number of holiday homes is affecting the atmosphere and economy of the town.

Richard Baylay, 86, a retired crab fisherman told the MailOnline: “There are just too many holiday homes. If they are run as businesses to make a profit for the owner then of course they should pay commercial waste charges like every other business.

“So I absolutely support what the council is trying to do. When I was young, Salcombe was a very different place. We'll never get it back. It was ours but now it's gone.”

A shop owner in the town, who did not want to be named said: “There are loads of people renting homes on the quiet to avoid paying for a commercial collection.

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“I see them, or their rental guests, dropping big bags of rubbish in street litter bins. So we're all paying to get that collected.

“I'm glad to see the council going after them.”

The local vicar, Rev Daniel French, 55, said it was a “bit naughty” if second home owners were concealing commercial waste from rentals as domestic.

Rev French said there was a lot of “discreet philanthropy” going on in the town, pointing to the development of Island Street.

A decade ago it was considered to be a “backward” part of the town but now, he said, there was a “buzz” about the area.

The head distiller at the Salcombe Distillery Company, Jason Nickels, 57, said there would always be people who bend the rules, adding it was “fair enough” that the council cracked down on owners who were not paying a commercial waste charge for rentals.

Shop manager Pete Ford, 32, said the council won’t need to enforce the rules as locals were already “dobbing-in” owners who don’t follow the rules.

He added that while Salcombe needs second homes and visitors renting them the places were being run for a profit and the owners should pay to have commercial waste collected, like any other business.

Some residents though say the council is just trying to wring more cash out of second-home owners who are effectively being double-charged as they already pay for waste collection via their council tax.

Jane Tyler, who volunteers at the Tourist Information Centre and has lived in the town for 27 years, said second-home owners would be “upset” as they have put money into local businesses and helped create jobs.

Marie Mison, 78, who has run a holiday home in Salcombe for nearly 40 years and is also a permanent resident in the town resented the idea that all second-home owners were trying to cheat the system.

She said if they were renting to holidaymakers then at least the visitors were spending money in the own and supporting businesses.

Marie added the real problem was caused by rich people who buy a second home merely to “park their money”.

She said that “huge chunks” of the town were left empty most of the years which did nothing for the local community.

Salcombe is now the most expensive seaside property market in the UK, overtaking Sandbanks in Dorset last year, according to mortgage lenders Halifax.

The average house price sale last year was £1.2million.

In its letter, the council said it was entitled to charge for waste and recycling collection from holiday lets “regardless of the type or amount of waste produced”.

It said: “These properties are not permitted to use the domestic service funded by the taxpayer. This includes….recycling banks, litter bins and household recycling centres.”

The council charges £350 a year for the service.

It also warned that failure to register a holiday home with the council or an approved commercial collector was a criminal offence.

According to the Office for National Statistics, Salcombe and two nearby coastal villages together have the highest concentration of second homes in the country, at 44.1 per thousand properties.

The South Hams Council has already approved a 100 per cent “second homes premium” which will see existing council sitax rated double to £8,461.80 for the most expensive band H properties and to £4,230.90 for those in band D.

The council says the move, which is conditional on the government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill becoming law next year, will ensure second home owners “pay a fair share of council tax”.

A spokesperson for the council said: “Commercial waste produced by a short-term holiday let business should not be disposed of via these methods.

“Each business must have an arrangement in place to remove the waste and recycling from the property.”

Elsewhere, home owners in another beautiful seaside town say it is being ruined by holidaymakers camping on the beach.

And people living further west along the coast in Cornwall complained about boozy youths ruining the peace in their seaside resort Polzeath.

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Londoners have been blamed for making Kent seaside town Margate a "dirty mess" while tourists have also been condemned for their impact on Eastbourne in neighbouring East Sussex.

Further north, protests about not only tourists but also second home-buyers were made in Bamburgh on the Northumberland coast.

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