There is a concern in some quarters that second homes have a negative impact on the economy of rural communities. In some parts of the UK, local strength of feeling about this has occasionally erupted into arson, for example, with a number of second homes being burned down in Wales.
The main issues that create controversy are twofold. Firstly, there is the argument that second home owners drive up prices in rural areas, pushing them out of the reach of local people and exacerbating the problem that there is not enough affordable housing for low-income local families. This is clearly an area that needs a balanced approach and well thought out strategy to help solve this very real issue.
The second common concern is that second houses are unoccupied for a large part of the year and this deprives local businesses of potential custom, sometimes badly affecting their viability.
Another aspect of this is that local schools can become short of children, sometimes forcing local schools to close. Indeed, on some areas very popular with second home owners, the area can feel like a ghost town out of season, without the community vitality and vibrant local economy that characterizes some other rural areas.
The problems seem to be focused on highly localized rural and coastal areas, the kind of attractive areas that are popular for second homes. For example, in North Cornwall, one in three properties is thought to be a second home or holiday home,
In general, the more remote rural areas have the greatest concentrations of second homes as a proportion of all the housing stock, intensifying the problem of creating a sustainable and robust local community with a thriving local economy.
Although second and holiday homes contribute to an uplift in property prices in rural areas, it is important not to view their economic impact in isolation from other factors contributing to changes within rural communities and especially pressures on local housing markets from other groups such as commuters, retirees, or people wanting a lifestyle change.
One way that second home owners can help avoid any negative economic impacts on the local community is to maximize the extent to which the second home does not stand empty.
By renting a second home out as a holiday home for part of the year, when it is not in use by the owner’s family, it ensures that money is brought into the local economy as the family renting the holiday home will inevitably spend money in the local shops, restaurants and at local attractions. This is clearly a positive impact on the local economy and far better for the local community than having a second home stand empty.
Yet many owners of second homes resist renting out their home to holidaymakers.
There are a wide variety of reasons for this. It is often not as simple as whether or not the owner of a second home would like to make a profitable return on their property.
Some second homeowners simply do not want strangers in their home and this is a strongly felt emotion they are not likely to overcome.
Others do not want to get involved in what they see as complex property management issues, involving a lot of work and practical difficulty. For these owners, the answer is often to hire a holiday homes services specialist that can take away the hassle and arrange everything on their behalf, making the whole process of renting out a holiday home very straightforward.
If a holiday homes services specialist is engaged, they can arrange all aspects of property management, cleaning services and key holder services as well as sometimes a holiday concierge service. This means that the second homeowner can benefit from a stream of income from the property, all the gain without the pain.
In addition, the impact on the local economy is positive as the holiday home rentals bring money into the local shops, restaurants, and attractions as well as necessitating the employment of local trade peoples, such as plumbers, electricians, painters, and carpenters.
The impacts, both positive and negative, of second homes and holiday homes touch on a diverse range of factors that affect the sustainability of rural communities.
One thing is clear – renting out a second home as a holiday home has a more positive impact on the local economy than leaving it standing empty for long periods.