How do we solve the problem of Second Home Ownership?

publication date: May 14, 2009
author/source: Kate Faulkner

Firstly it’s important to understand that much of the problem that second holiday home ownership causes is frustration and resentment from neighbours who want a community that everyone lives in all year round. So the real issue is not to ‘stop’ second home ownership, but to try to ensure that second home owners consider the community more and do their best to ensure the property is used as much as possible. Each community will have different issues and need different solutions. As a result, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ scenario that will sort the problem out. Most communities are more than able to work out what to do, however, here are some suggested steps which may help start to tackle some of these problems head on:-

Step One: Separate out Second Home Owner Issues
It’s important for the local community to work out what issues are directly caused by second home ownership and what problems they are suffering due to external factors. For example the high growth of property prices in rural villages is affecting other local villages/towns generally, as is the growth in the major retailers, especially with on-line deliveries wiping out local shops.
Step Two: Research the Second Home Owners
Understand why second home owners are spending so little time at their property. This could be done via a meeting or through market research, which could be done on paper or on-line and to get the most accurate results, it should be allowed to be submitted anonymously.

Step Three: Work out local community needs
With the information from the local community and the second home owners, it’s worth working out exactly what the community needs, including the second home owners, for example:-

1. Affordable Housing
Each community should work out how many homes, of what size and for what price it requires for local people to stay in the area. Any landowners/people living on large plots who are happy to have one or more properties built on their land should declare their support for local building.
2. Employment
Are there any people who are running their own businesses from nearby towns that would, if allowed, like to relocate their business to their local community? Are there any employees who work for small to medium sized companies that may be interested in relocating to more rural premises?

3. Shopping
What facilities do people need? Is there a local pub or other business that might be happy to provide these facilities? Is there a local shop nearby that might be happy to deliver to order? Is it possible to set up a volunteer group that does a daily shop for the local community? Will the local retailers deliver to the area for a ‘pooled’ community order? Is there anyone locally that would be happy to run a shop on a profit share basis if the local community pitched in to financially support it?

4. Medical Facilities
In other village/town environments, areas have set up volunteer groups to ensure people can attend hospital and doctor appointments in nearby towns, is it possible to do this? Might there be funding available from the local community? If it’s not viable to do this just for one small village, would surrounding villages join in?

5. Schools
What are the needs of children locally? How would this change if people who want to remain in the village could do so? Can transport facilities be supported by the local authority or a volunteer group set up to ferry children to and fro to nearby schools? Is it worth raising money for a local bus and paying a local person to do the driving as a part time job?

Step Four
Hopefully the community has a local authority and someone in it who wants to help sort the problem out for the good of everyone. If not, perhaps the local community should support their own candidate at the next elections?

Step Five
Organise a series of meetings with the local authority to discuss the issues and potential solutions armed with information from Steps One and Three.  Ideally invite and involve second home owners so they feel part of the process, don’t alienate them. Task different groups with how to solve the problems. Make sure, for example, that there is one or more second home owner on the group of how to encourage holiday home owners to use their property all year round.

An alternative, and sure fired way of stopping the growth of second home ownership for individual holiday home usage, is for the local community to individually agree to put covenants on all of the owned homes in the area that they are only ever to be sold to someone who lives/lived in the local community.

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