Over 11,000 Properties in England Flipped to Holiday Homes Amid Staycation Boom

September 6, 2021 Updated: September 6, 2021

More than 11,000 second-home owners in England have flipped their properties to become holiday lets since the start of the pandemic, to capitalise on soaring demand for staycations.

New analysis of government figures by real estate advisers Altus Group showed that the number of holiday homes trading as businesses has jumped by more than a fifth since the pandemic hit.

The data show that there are now 67,578 homes in England classified as holiday homes that have been flipped to become commercial premises, compared with 56,102 properties in March last year.

Restrictions on travel to other countries has resulted in a surge in demand for domestic holidays, particularly in 2021.

Almost 4,000 homes have been flipped in the southwest since the start of the pandemic, amid record visitor numbers in Cornwall and Devon.

Meanwhile, the southeast also saw a significant rise in the number of new holiday retreats, with a 27.2 percent rise, or 1,458 properties, over the period.

Transforming second properties into holiday lets helped secure additional income for owners during the pandemic but could also be beneficial for tax reasons.

Holiday homes were also entitled to grants last spring worth £552.23 million ($764 million) to support non-essential retail, hospitality, leisure, personal care, and accommodation sectors.

Meanwhile, top-up grants worth a further £256.84 million ($355 million) were made available in January, given the third national lockdown.

This year’s Budget also saw further grant funding announced to take total grant support to £1.33 billion ($1.84 billion) since COVID-19 first hit, according to Altus.

Robert Hayton, UK president of Altus Group, said, “The grants for second-home owners will have been far more lucrative than ‘business as usual’ for many, especially in the off seasons, whilst there is a pivot towards holiday lets as rental prices boom in hotspots.”

About 96 percent of holiday homes in England are also covered by the small business rate regime, so pay little to no property taxes.

However, the government announced in the March Budget that it plans to legislate to tighten tax rules for second-property owners in England, meaning they will only be able register for business rates relief if their properties are genuine holiday lets.

By Henry Saker-Clark