NEARLY 200 homeowners in Mid Devon could see their council tax double next year as part of changes to how second properties are charged.

The government’s Levelling Up and Regeneration Act gives councils the option to charge second homeowners double council tax to provide a small boost to their finances.

A second home is defined as one that is substantially furnished and periodically occupied, but is not the owner’s sole or main residence.

Mid Devon District Council has 194 properties ranging across all council tax bands that could attract the premium from April next year.

“We will be writing to all those who may be affected so that they are aware of the change regarding their billing,” a council spokesperson said.

The advance warning is aimed at giving second homeowners the chance to sell their properties if they don’t want to pay the higher fee, or alternatively rent them out or make them their main residence.

Linked to these changes is the ability for councils to define a home as empty after just one year of it being unoccupied, rather than two years under previous rules.

Empty properties can also be charged double council tax, with even higher, staggered premiums possible if they are empty for more than five years or more than 10 years.

Mid Devon has 203 empty homes, and so could also be charging some of these a 100 per cent council tax premium once they have been empty for a year.

The proposed charges will be put to the full council in February to be ratified.

Bath and North East Somerset made the headlines last month after deciding to hike council tax charges for second homes.

Other authorities in Devon are also looking to increase their charges once they are able to, with East Devon District Council proposing such a move.

More than 11,000 homes in Devon are considered to be second homes, according to the county council.

Bradley Gerrard