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Couple’s dream of retiring to second home by the sea turns into ‘nightmare’ | UK | News

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Fiona Wilson

Fiona Wilson, 66, fears her retirement plans will be scuppered by a tax on second homes (Image: SWNS)

A couple fears their retirement dream will end up in tatters due to harsh new tax regulations that could potentially double their bill to crippling sums.

Fiona Wilson, 66, and her husband David, 68, secured their coastal retreat in Whitby, on the north east coast, 14 years ago, viewing it as a lucrative rental venture.

This was in addition to their primary residence in Potto, North Yorkshire, which they snapped up for £205,000 back in 1999. Yet, upon entering retirement, the pair envisaged the Whitby abode as their secondary haven, eagerly anticipating regular seaside escapes.

However, they now confront a “punitive” tax hike that threatens to bleed them dry financially or compel them to offload their three-bedroom haven, as reported by YorkshireLive.

Residing in Potto, a mere 40 miles from their coastal getaway, Fiona, a retired teacher, and David, a former pharmacist, are feeling frustrated. Fiona said: “At the time of my retirement, we worked very hard, when we should be enjoying the products of our hard work, we are being punished.”


Picturesque Whitby in North Yorkshire, where the couple’s second home is (Image: SWNS)

Initially, the duo purchased the cottage for £150,000 in 2010, aiming to rent it out to vacationers as a means to bolster their nest egg for the golden years. Fiona detailed: “We were both working full time. I was a teacher and my husband was a pharmacist.”, reports the Manchester Evening News.

“We deliberately bought it as a source of extra income to be used to supplement our retirement as part of a retirement plan.”

The couple had been enjoying a lower tax value while their property was being rented out, thanks to 100 per cent business rate relief. When they reached retirement, the choice was made not to continue renting but to keep the cottage for personal usage.

They were stunned to discover the annual tax of £1,800 is programmed to nearly double up to £4,000 by April 2025. This surge can be attributed to North Yorkshire Council’s introduction of a ‘second home premium’ charge of 100%, in line with the Levelling Up Act (2023).

In light of this heavy hike, Fiona pondered selling the place. She added: “It’s going to cost an awful lot of money to keep the two homes.”

According to her predictions, her property will be taken by someone planning to use it as a holiday let. She continued: “We think the policy is flawed. [It’s designed] to encourage people with second homes to put them on the market.”


The couple fear it’ll be too expensive to keep both homes (Image: SWNS)

Fiona, who has always loyally voted for Conservative, expressed disappointment over this matter through her MP, Sir Robert Goodwill.

She added: “It’s totally unfair. It’s un-Conservative to punish people who have worked very hard. I have no problem paying tax but on this occasion, this is a punitive tax. We can afford to pay the double tax – we just think it’s very unfair.”

Gary Fielding, associated with North Yorkshire Council as corporate director for strategic resources, stood up for the new tax. He confirmed: “The new council tax premium on second homes is a key part of North Yorkshire Council’s strategy to help provide good quality, sustainable properties for residents.”

“Coming into force on April 1 next year, the new scheme will effectively double council tax bills for second homeowners and will generate between £11.5 million and £16.5 million in additional council tax revenue.”

“The ultimate aim, however, is to bring second homes back into use in communities where many people have been priced out of the housing market.”

Fiona Whitby

Fiona thinks the policy is flawed, but nevertheless, it could cause repercussions to her and husband David’s retirement plans (Image: SWNS)

“Areas along the east coast and within the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks present particular issues. “Across the whole of North Yorkshire, more than three per cent of housing stock is comprised of second homes. This is twice the national average.

“But this figure rises to 7.5 per cent in the Scarborough area, which includes Whitby and Filey, and increases to at least 20 per cent in some locations when taking holiday lets into account. The impact of this is that the supply of housing, for both renters and first-time buyers, is greatly reduced and, where there is availability, this is often expensive and beyond the means of some people.”

“The authority hopes to help address this issue by using funding generated from the council tax premium to introduce more housing in areas where there is the most need. North Yorkshire Council is proud to be one of the first local authorities to introduce such a pioneering policy and is confident it will help ensure communities have a sustainable future.”

Sir Robert Goodwill, MP for Scarborough and Whitby, has shone a light on the dire housing situation in Whitby, revealing: “We do have a problem in Whitby with local people being priced out of the housing market. Second homes and holiday lets including Airbnb are having quite an impact.”

He went on to detail the knock-on effects: “There have been a number of problems flowing from this including the fact that we currently have 42 percent surplus secondary school places in Whitby with one of the three school locations scheduled for closure.”

Goodwill didn’t shy away from discussing the seasonal challenges, and added: “Many second homes are only used in the summer which makes the survival of local shops, post offices and pubs in villages very difficult.”

“It is almost impossible to get land for new building in Whitby which would deliver a proportion of social housing and the town is hemmed in by the North Yorks Moors National Park where new builds are pretty much ruled out.”

Wrapping up, he highlighted the council’s approach: “This policy from the North Yorkshire Council is aimed at freeing up housing for local people to buy. There are similar problems in the Dales too.”

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