AN EXTRA tax on Dorset’s 5,700 second homes could bring in a £9.5 million windfall from April 2025.

Dorset Council has confirmed that it will be seeking to adopt the additional tax now that Government legislation has been approved.

The changes will also see an extra charge levied on empty and unfurnished homes after one year, compared to the existing two year limit, which could bring in around £600,000 extra a year.

Portfolio holder Cllr Jill Haynes said she will be bringing the proposals to the February 13th full council meeting to consider the 100per cent premium on second and empty homes.

The changes had been talked about a year ago, based on the Government's ‘levelling up’ legislation, but there was a delay in receiving Royal Assent, missing the deadline for April this year.

Even if approved by Dorset Council the changes will not affect most of the holiday homes in the county which are mainly let out on a commercial basis and pay business rates rather than standard council tax.

When discussed a year ago several second home owners warned that the extra tax might force them to sell up, harming the county’s economy.

But council officers believe only a few are likely to take the step although many might try to convert their second homes into businesses which, in turn, would result in an increase income for the council from business rates. It would also make it easier for the authority to charge higher fees for services to those properties, including rubbish and recycling collections.

The difficulty for owners seeking to convert to business use is that they would have to make the property available for letting for at least 20 weeks in every year and would have to prove it had been let for at least 70 days.

A decision on whether a property remains on the Council Tax List or the Business Rate list lies with the Valuation Office which is independent of the council.

Said a report to councillors a year ago when the idea was first discussed: “The proposed changes to legislation to allow councils to apply a council tax premium on second and empty homes is primarily aimed at allowing councils to raise additional revenue and to acknowledge the impact that second and empty homes can have on some communities, with a view that especially in the case of empty properties this would incentivise property owners to bring those properties back into use at the earliest opportunity.”

In some Dorset communities second and holiday homes often exceed 25% of all properties, leading, according to some, to a decline in a sense of community with rising prices forcing local people on average incomes out of the housing market.