Photos from the East Devon communities of Exmouth, Beer, Axminster and Honiton

A move to double Council Tax for the owners of second homes and charge double rates for empty homes after one year instead of two was agreed by East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Cabinet.

The final decision on the changes will be made at EDDC’s next full council meeting on 22 February, with an aim of introducing the charges from 1 April 2024.

These changes are subject to Government signing off the relevant legislation – under the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

EDDC’s Cabinet green lighted the move at its latest meeting on Wednesday, 4 January, in hopes it would act as encouragement, seeing empty properties brought back into use for the local community.

This change could also help towards making up finances following reductions in Council Tax for lower income households.

If given the go ahead, the changes would see the following charges introduced:

  • All furnished homes which are not someone’s sole or main residence (commonly referred to as second homes) will be charged a 100 per cent premium in addition to the 100 per cent Council Tax currently charged.
  • After one year (instead of two) of being empty, a property will now be charged 100 per cent premium in addition to the 100 per cent Council Tax currently charged.      

Councillor Jack Rowland, EDDC’s portfolio holder for finance, said:

“This change, if the parliamentary bill receives approval and full council accept the cabinet recommendation next month, would be effective from April 2024 so the people affected by the change will have a full year's notice of the change.

“In East Devon we have a shortage of properties to enable people to rent or potentially purchase and stay and live/work in the area.

“If this change frees up empty properties to come onto the rental or purchase market then I and my cabinet colleagues welcome that.

“Where the people affected by this change may still choose to keep the property empty or as a second home then the additional Council Tax they would have to pay will help ensure the current services provided by EDDC will be maintained, bearing in mind that only seven per cent of that increase would go directly to EDDC as the bulk (73 per cent) would go to Devon County Council and the remainder to the police and fire service.”

Visit to read the cabinet report on the changes.