Second home owners in parts of Somerset will see their council tax double from April 2025.
Under the new move, those who own a substantially furnished home that is only periodically occupied and does not have anyone registered at the property will be hit by the maximum 100 per cent premium.
Hundreds of homes are set to be affected unless the properties are sold, rented out or moved into permanently.
Currently, 162 empty homes in the area pay the 100 per cent premium but this will rise to 340 after the change.
Bath and North East Somerset council estimates it will generate £1.84m in extra funding per year. It is the latest area of the country to see a crackdown on second homes.
At a full meeting of the council, Mark Elliott, cabinet member for resources, said: “The shortage of housing puts pressure on prices and means that ordinary local people are priced out of the housing market altogether.
“This change will encourage properties back on the market by discouraging second home ownership.
“For those who choose to own second homes still, it would mean that they make a higher contribution to vital local services at a time when those services are under severe pressure.”
‘Scourge’ of empty properties
Councillors voted unanimously to approve the change, although three councillors who own second homes in the area themselves had to leave the chamber for the debate.
The power to levy the extra tax was given to councils in the Levelling-Up and Regeneration Act 2023, which became law in October.
Councillors in Bath and Somerset also unanimously approved charging the 100 per cent premium once a property was empty for a year, another power in the new legislation. Previously, this applied after two years.
In July, The Telegraph revealed that more than 100,000 second-home owners – over 40 per cent of the total – will see their council tax bills rise at the first available opportunity as a result of the Act.
One in four councils in England pre-emptively agreed to double the levy to bring in an estimated £200 million, including in holiday hotspots in Devon, Cornwall, the Lake District and Norfolk.
The Labour Party has also already announced that it will introduce further measures to target second home owners if it gains power.
Second-home owners and leaders in the tourism industry told The Telegraph that they felt they were being “scapegoated” to make up for the Government’s failure to build affordable homes.
Michael Gove has championed moves against second-home owners, saying he wants to end the “scourge” of empty properties so “desperate” families are not “pushed out” of their communities.