Holiday let rule has ‘killed business’ for Pembrokeshire retiree

A Pembrokeshire retiree, who has a seaside holiday let, says the introduction of the Welsh Government 182-day rule for holiday lets has ‘killed’ his business, forcing him to rent it out full time instead.

Retired Geologist Dr John Roobol, originally from Milford Haven, has been successfully letting The Anchorage, Sandy Haven for 16 years.

He now feels the combination of Pembrokeshire County Council increasing the second homes tax premium to 200 per cent, along with a change in Welsh Government criteria where holiday lets must be filled for 182 days a year in order to qualify for business rates has “destroyed” his business.

Last April the business rate level was moved from 70 to 182 days, which Mr Roobol says he’s never exceeded, meaning he would pay the treble council tax rate on his holiday let.

Referring to the first point he said: ““According to local estate agents many are now selling their holiday homes and the people leaving are saying they will not be back. What prosperity we know in Pembrokeshire is now threatened.”

On the 182-day rule, he added: “The huge rates increase has destroyed my business. To survive I must now cease tourist letting and switch over to full-time long-term letting. This problem is being faced by others across Wales,” he said.

“It has been a pleasure to meet the excited families arriving after long drives to their much-awaited summer holidays. Many know little about Pembrokeshire so I have written a book about it (Pembrokeshire’s Past, 2024).”

He added: “The trade had previously benefitted by having small business ratings making them exempt from paying council rates. Initially the requirement was to let for 70 days a year.

“On April 1, 2023 the Welsh Assembly raised this to 182 nights per year. This is not possible for most of us because of the long dark cold wet and windy winter weather that we experience for six months each year.

“I have never rented for more than 153 days per year, and choose not to bring tourist families here in winter. I have two properties here, one in which I lived and paid rates and the other to rent out as a small business, rates exempted.

“I will now switch to renting my ‘tourist’ house to full-time family rent. This way I will be paying single rates on each property. This will lose 10 tourist beds.”

A call to potentially lower the 182-day rate in Pembrokeshire was heard in December in a notice of motion submitted by Councillor Huw Murphy, who asked for a reduction to 140 days, saying: “In the current economic crisis PCC need to use every tool at its disposal in supporting these businesses to survive and thrive.”

The notice, heard at the county council’s Cabinet, was not supported, members hearing from Cabinet Member for Corporate Finance Cllr Alec Cormack that the responsibility to justify the increase lay with Cardiff, with a distinct lack of data to make an informed decision at the moment.

Members agreed to review the situation after 12 months, and to write to Welsh Government raising concerns about the issue, as well as requesting information about how the change in days is working.

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