Furious locals say second-home owners are dodging 'bin tax'

‘If they make a profit they should pay’: Furious locals in seaside resort of Salcombe say second-home owners are renting out their properties ‘on the quiet’ to avoid paying £350 ‘bin tax’ for commercial waste collection

  • EXCLUSIVE: South Hams District Council continues holiday home crackdown

Furious residents of Britain’s most sought-after seaside resort have blasted second-home owners who they say are renting out their homes on the sly to avoid paying a £350 ‘bin tax’ under the orders of the local council.

Holiday home owners in Salcombe, Devon, have been told they must pay a commercial waste charge if they rent out their properties as holiday homes, or face a £300 on-the-spot fine if they are caught ducking the rules.

A letter has been sent to 2,000 addresses warning part-time residents they face punishments if they are caught using street litter bins or council bottle banks without paying the commercial charge.

South Hams District Council is already set to double council tax on second homes while holiday homes registered as businesses will this year face a corporation tax rise from 19 per cent to 25 per cent; the initiatives have the backing of many local residents.

Locals say that the phenomenal number of holiday homes – among the highest, proportionally, of any settlement in the UK – has dramatically affected the atmosphere and economy of the town.

Salcombe has the highest density of holiday homes of any settlement in the UK 

Public bins in the area explicitly forbid the placing of holiday home waste and black bags inside – amid concerns second-home owners are trying to dodge commercial waste fees

Retired fisherman Richard Baylay believes there are ‘too many’ second homes in the Devon town

Jane Tyler, a volunteer at the Salcombe Tourist Information Centre, believes second-home owners will be ‘very upset’ at the decision

Local collection bins on a street in Salcombe. The council has warned second-home owners they face a £300 fine if they try to dodge a commercial waste ban

Retired crab fisherman Richard Baylay, 86, said: ‘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.’

Salcombe’s vicar, the Rev. Daniel French, 55, told MailOnline it was ‘a bit naughty’ if second home owners were concealing commercial waste from rentals as domestic.

READ MORE: Second-home owners in seaside paradise resort Salcombe are banned from using litter bins or bottle banks unless they pay a £350-a-year bin tax 

‘But if that it happening then I suspect it is a minority,’ he said. ‘Salcombe often gets a bad press – there’s a stereotypical image of those owning second homes as though they don’t care about the local community.

‘But that’s a media caricature. There are two sides to every story and in fact there is a lot of discreet philanthropy going on in Salcombe.

‘For instance, look at the transformation of Island Street. Much of that has come from people who have bought a second home and invested in a business there.

‘Ten years ago the street was considered a backward part of town. Now it looks and feels so much better. There’s a lot of excitement and a real buzz about the place.

‘In our church we are trying to bring people from all sides of the argument together and show the positive contributions being made.’

One shop owner in the town, who would not be named, told Mail Online: ‘There are loads of people renting homes on the quiet to avoid paying for a commercial collection.

‘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.’

Jason Nickels, 57-year-old head distiller of the Salcombe Distillery Company, said: ‘There are always people who will bend the rules.

‘It’s fair enough for the council to crack down on owners who are not paying a commercial waste charge for rentals.

‘But plenty of second home owners are living here themselves 50% of the year. It’s not just an occasional bolthole.

‘This whole controversy dates back to the first summer after lockdown when people were able to go away for the first time in ages.

‘There wasn’t a bed to be had in Salcombe – the town was effectively full. Everywhere was crowded and there was a big rise in the amount of waste produced.

‘Thankfully things are back to normal now.’

Salcombe vicar the Rev. Michael French says any second-home owners trying to avoid the commercial waste fee were ‘a bit naughty’

Boatbuilder Mike Wrigley, 61, who claims to have seen second-home owners carrying armfuls of rubbish to public bins, said: ‘If you run a business you pay into the system’

The quay at Salcombe, on the Devon coast. Locals say the town has changed considerably as a result of its high rate of second-home ownership

Statistics suggest Salcombe has become one of the most expensive places in the country to buy a house after a boom in interest from holiday home seekers

Shop manager Pete Ford, 32, said: ‘They won’t need to enforce it.

‘Local people are already doing the job for them by dobbing-in owners of second-home holiday lets who don’t follow the rules.

‘I know a couple of places where this has happened. Residents spot renters slipping out with bags of rubbish and report it to the council.

READ MORE: Now another picturesque Norfolk village bans people from buying holiday homes in their tightknit community – as seaside towns across Britain plan ‘draconian’ new rules to prevent their towns being swamped with outsiders 

‘Next thing, you see a commercial waste bin appears outside the property.

‘Of course, Salcombe needs second homes and visitors who rent them. But these places are being run for profit.

‘Owners should pay to have commercial waste collected, like all businesses.’

Boatbuilder Mike Wrigley, 61, said: ‘If you run a business you pay into the system.

‘I see some holiday-home visitors heading on to the street with armfuls of rubbish to dump in litter bins.

‘They don’t want it in their car as they head back up the motorway.’

Some permanent residents, however, say the authority is cynically seeking to wring more cash out of second-homers by double-charging those who already pay for waste collection through their domestic council tax.

Jane Tyler, a volunteer at Salcombe’s Tourist Information Centre, said she was shocked at the council’s stance.

‘There are going to be a lot of very upset, and much-loved, second home owners who have invested in the town,’ said Ms Tyler, a full-time resident for 27 years.

‘They have put money into local businesses and if it wasn’t for them where would the jobs be?

‘I can see that if you’re running a holiday business you should pay for a local contractor to take away your waste.

‘But I’m not sure it is either right or fair for people who pay council tax. They’re already paying to have their bins collected so what difference does it make whether they’re staying themselves or have rented out to visitors.

‘It seems like double-charging for the same thing. Surely it’s the same amount of waste for the council to collect.’

Marie Mison, 78, has run a holiday home in Salcombe for 38 years and now lives in a nearby property overlooking the picturesque fishing port as a full time resident.

She believes the council will be able to police its bin tax easily enough. ‘They already know which holiday properties are registered as businesses,’ she said.

‘So they know who to send their letters to and who is registered for commercial waste.

‘Unregistered properties can be identified pretty easily. The bin men and the locals all know what waste from holidaymakers looks like.’

A local resident’s bin in Salcombe is secured with a padlock as the council cracks down on unlawful waste disposal

Some locals believe the council is using second-home owners as an easy cash grab (pictured: a local bin lorry on a collection run)

Salcombe’s population swells in the summer as second home owners descend on the town

The idyllic seaside town is popular because of its location – it sits in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

She also resents the idea that all second home owners are trying to cheat the system.

‘If they are renting to holidaymakers then at least those visitors are spending money in the town and supporting businesses for much of the year,’ she said.

‘The real problem is caused by wealthy people who buy a second home here purely to park their money.

READ MORE: SNP pulls the rug on Scots who have second homes in idyllic holiday hotspots 

‘They leave it empty most of the year – huge chunks of Salcombe lie empty and those homes do nothing for the community.’

One second-home owner previously told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It’s absurd. How on earth will they enforce it?

‘Are council staff going to lurk around litter bins to check the rubbish registration status of someone chucking in a Mars Bar wrapper?

‘I’ve owned a place in Salcombe for 20 years and this is the first I’ve heard of it. They just want to wring more money out of people already facing big increases in council tax or business rates.’

According to mortgage lenders Halifax, Salcombe last year overtook Sandbanks in Dorset as the most expensive seaside property market in Britain. Average house sale prices last year topped £1.2 million.

In its letter the council says it is entitled to charge for waste and recycling collections from holiday lets ‘regardless of the type or amount of waste produced.’

It states: ‘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 letter warns owners that failure to register a holiday home with the council or an approved commercial collector is a criminal offence. The council charges £350 a year for the service.

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

It is followed by Gwynedd in North Wales (41), North Norfolk (38.7) and Anglesey (32.9).

South Hams Council has already approved a 100% ‘second homes premium’, which will double existing council tax rates to £8461.80 for the most expensive band H properties and to £4230.90 for those in the typical band D bracket.

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

A spokesman for South Hams Council declined to say how it would catch unregistered holiday home owners depositing commercial rental waste in street litter bins or bottle banks.

He 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.’

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