The closure of a long standing council tax loophole may threaten the livelihoods of self-catering property owners, it has been claimed.

Owners who cannot fill their properties for more than 70 days per financial year will have to pay more. A proportion of self-catering businesses will be required to pay council tax on properties attracting less than 70 days occupancy, instead of less costly business rates.

It has been claimed by some tourist associations that some businesses may be forced to close.

The occupancy rule is designed to prevent second home owners from paying a lower rate of council tax by listing their properties as holiday lets – without actually seeking holidaymakers to rent them out to.

However, it has been claimed by tourism businesses and associations that the new move will combine with the challenging economic climate and continuing poor weather to create an untenable commercial situation for some self-catering businesses in the UK.

In Wales, a recent survey carried out by Wales Association of Self-Catering Operators (Wasco), revealed that 42% of respondents found Easter business was worse than last year.

1 in 10 businesses said the situation was better than last year.

The situation may be particularly bad for businesses with multiple properties; if several attract fewer than 70 days-worth of tenants, it could mean paying thousands of pounds in additional council tax.

This cost, in addition to essentials such as paying for utilities and holiday home insurance, could mean many self-catering enterprises will struggle this year.