AN MP has welcomed measures that will crack down on owners of second homes taking advantage of a ‘crazy’ tax loophole but said ‘radical’ action is needed to stop communities becoming ‘ghost towns’.

Under new measures, owners of second homes who abuse a tax loophole by claiming their often-empty properties are holiday lets will be forced to pay their ‘fair share’.

Currently, owners of second homes in England can avoid paying council tax and access small business rates relief by declaring an intention to let the property out to holidaymakers.

However, concerns have been raised that many never actually let their homes and leave them empty.

From April 2023, second homeowners will have to prove holiday lets are being rented out for a minimum of 70 days a year to access small business rates relief, where they meet the criteria.

Holiday let owners will have to provide evidence such as the website or brochure used to advertise the property, letting details and receipts.

Properties will also have to be available to be rented out for 140 days a year to qualify for this relief.

But Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron, who recently set out a seven-point plan to limit the number of second homes and make more affordable homes available for local families, said the renewed announcement-made on January 14- was just another delay from the Government.

The MP revealed that in South Lakeland there has been a 32 per cent increase in the number of holiday lets over the past year.

"I've been campaigning for this crazy loophole to be closed for sometime so it’s very welcome that it's set to be closed - or rather it was when the Treasury originally announced this back in March last year,” he said.

"So this is just a re-announcement and a delay. The Government have taken 10 months to come up with another press release while rural towns and villages have been dying.

"The Government cannot claim to be ‘levelling up’ the North when they are standing by and letting communities become ghost towns.

"Rather than patting themselves on the back, the Government must take the radical but necessary action to limit the number of family homes being turned into empty homes, including the seven-point plan I presented to the Housing minister in my debate on second homes last week."

Secretary of State for Levelling Up Michael Gove said: “The government backs small businesses, including responsible short-term letting, which attracts tourists and brings significant investment to local communities.

“However, we will not stand by and allow people in privileged positions to abuse the system by unfairly claiming tax relief and leaving local people counting the cost.

“The action we are taking will create a fairer system, ensuring that second homeowners are contributing their share to the local services they benefit from.”