Second Home Ownership
Should a tax be imposed on second home ownership?
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Second home ownership has troubling economic implications for the local communities exposed to it, a...
Second home ownership has troubling economic implications for the local communities exposed to it, as people find it more and more difficult to afford housing within their own community. With the rise in housing prices, there is also an immediate rise in associated costs and services which often target only the seasonal residents. An additional property tax on second homes would provide local governments with a higher budget to help locals cope with these changes. In addition, stricter regulations could help limit the number of second homes in a particular community thus making the problem more manageable. For example, a proportion of properties available for purchase in rural areas could be reserved for existing local residents only.
Although second homes do raise property prices in the areas where they are built, they also contribute to bringing better services to the local community (including improved health care and in some cases better education). They also create much needed job opportunities in communities that often suffer from chronic unemployment. A higher property tax is unlikely to slow down the rate at which second home are built and bought and might even lead to an even sharper increase in the cost of homes, creating more problems for the local communities. The issue of second home buying is part of a larger problem that has to do with the decrease in quality of life in cities, with increasing pollution and less and less access to nature. The solution might be to focus on creating more of a balance between development and nature within the urban areas as opposed to targeting rural areas alone.
The social implications of second home ownership are also particularly troublesome, particularly in ...
The social implications of second home ownership are also particularly troublesome, particularly in situations where foreigners buy second homes in countries other than their own. While cities more easily adapt to dealing with foreign popu+lations, rural communities find themselves trapped between having to change their local culture and sometimes even language (by posting street signs or menus in different languages) and trying to maintain some of the local character of the place. In some areas this creates tension that can often degenerate into dangerous movements such as nationalist or xenophobic groups. For example, Welsh nationalists made a point of burning down holiday homes in North Wales in the 1980s. The presence of too many incomers (whether of the same nationality or not) in these areas significantly alters social relations, leading to a clear loss in local culture and customs and a reallocation of social priorities from the quality of relations between people to profits and maintenance of individual space.
The freedom of movement guaranteed by the EU is an essential component of what the EU stands for. Placing increasing regulations – on top of the ones that already exist – on acquiring property abroad threatens to challenge that freedom. Countries like Spain, Italy, France, Croatia or Poland that have experienced much of this second-home ownership wave, are clearly split between the benefits and the disadvantages that they have to deal with. While local communities are not always pleased, there is a consensus that economically speaking, they have enjoyed large benefits from the incoming seasonal tourists and new members of the community. For example, incomers can help to reinvigorate rural areas suffering out migration to the cities (e.g. France), or abroad (e.g. Poland), as young people have left in search of work and increased opportunities. \
As people are more and more attracted by pristine places with access to water, forests or unspoiled nature, maintaining local communities and cultures will inevitably become more difficult. This is not something that can be avoided through a simple increase in tax or regulation. One must remember that cultures are fluid and that modern developments cannot be avoided or ignored because of the whims of certain secluded communities. Second homes are only part of the changes these communities face, and they can sometimes offer solutions to the problems from which they suffer.\
The environmental devastation often caused by second home ownership also endangers communities that ...
The environmental devastation often caused by second home ownership also endangers communities that have until then sought to preserve beauty in a natural state. As second home buyers often expect similar services to the ones available in cities, the construction of infrastructure and the transformation of natural areas into amusement parks for the rich (from golf courses to artificial lakes, and well manicured gardens) leaves little of the surrounding nature untouched. Natural havens of wilderness are thus transformed into bio zoos for the prying eyes of strangers who are there merely to enjoy its aesthetic properties, often ignoring important aspects of nature preservation.
While this is certainly true in some cases, in other cases, second home owners have come to those communities precisely because they were interested in preserving its natural beauty. This is the case of second home ownership in places like Wisconsin, and many rural areas in Canada, where second home owners often come in with more knowledge about environmental preservation and help the community learn to treasure elements of nature and resources that they simply took for granted before. Learning how best to manage these resources, even for economic benefits, might help better preserve these areas in the future. Unfortunately, there is no fiscal mechanism for the state to control the direction in which these communities will go: devastation or preservation. Campaigns aimed at raising awareness towards these issues might prove to be more efficient than cumbersome tax regulations.
Second home owners create environments without coherence that are overpopulated in high season (wint...
Second home owners create environments without coherence that are overpopulated in high season (winter or summer depending on the property location) but transformed into ghost towns during low season. This often drives out the locals and bringing in tourists, a cheap temporary labour force and other transient populations. Marketing themselves towards different kinds of people turns these places into a paradise for the Japanese one season and for the French or Germans the next. The transformation of the Caribbean and other exotic islands into mere tourist destinations as opposed to living environments speaks greatly to the danger of turning other environments into just that.
The coherence implied in tight knit rural communities is not the only form of social coherence that can exist. In fact, cities, particularly so called global cities, have proven that there are many ways in which this coherence can evolve and that groups of people with very different cultures always find creative means to coexist. That rural areas have often been protected from having to adjust to the modern world, does not mean that it is possible to maintain this forever. One need not be afraid of different forms of coherence, for even seasonal towns maintain their own forms of social solidarities and create a certain sense of community. In any case, these problems are common to all tourist venues not just to those with many second homes. Second home owners are in fact much more likely than holidaymakers to visit at all times of year, not just in high season. Their presence in a community helps to create year-round work, for example in construction and property maintenance.
Imposing a tax along with regulations on second home ownership would be an efficient way of reducing...
Imposing a tax along with regulations on second home ownership would be an efficient way of reducing the increasing destruction of rural communities, as well as addressing the costs of the social, economic and environmental devastation that come along with it. The political process of imposing these taxes and regulations would also help raise awareness on the issue and draw the wider population’s attention towards the need for an overall policy on development and rural issues. In Europe this might mean the creation of an EU mechanism to deal with it – such as a possible reform of the Common Agricultural Policy to include dealing with this issue as well.
5. It is unlikely that such taxes will be imposed, particularly in the UK, where the debate on this has emerged. The response to Mr Meacher’s suggestion has so far been a pretty firm no. Thus the chances of such legislation passing are very low. Even in the event that such legislation would pass, there is little evidence that the tax and regulations would be efficient and dealing with such complex problems as the destruction of rural communities. The EU has shown little desire to deal with this issue and the likelihood of the new negotiation of the CAP to include new issues is unlikely, given that most EU members are hoping for a slow phase-out of the policy. Given that Britain has been one of the strongest opponents of the CAP, it is highly unlikely that it would recommend its continued existence, even under a new framework.
It is immoral for some people to have an excess of housing while others are homeless. Many poorer f...
It is immoral for some people to have an excess of housing while others are homeless. Many poorer families are forced to live with parents for years because they cannot afford their own home, or else are forced into poor quality bed and breakfast accommodation with no proper security or privacy. Yet many richer families have additional homes which stand empty for months on end. The right to shelter should be recognised as a basic human right by governments, but no one has the right to accumulate additional empty properties. Governments should act accordingly to prevent the few distorting the housing market to the detriment of the many.
Excessive government intervention in the housing market will cause it to collapse, leading to no investment in the new building and an overall increase in homelessness. Controlling what individuals can do with their hard earned money would strike at the roots of a free society, removing people’s incentives to work hard and better their conditions, and so undermining prosperity for all. Migration of people from rural areas to the cities is a very long-term phenomenon, and the lack of sufficient low-cost housing in some countries is a problem just as much of cities as of rural areas. Governments need to address housing policy as a whole - for example, it hugely more difficult to get permission to build new housing in the UK than in the USA - not to target a few second home owners out of simple class envy.
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