Council tax on second homes is being doubled in a bid to tackle a housing “crisis”.

Adur District Council and Worthing Borough Council hope the increase will encourage owners to sell or let their properties to help combat the local housing shortage.

Council tax due on properties that have been empty for at least a year will also be doubled.

There are believed to be 174 second homes in the Adur district and 486 in Worthing. There are also 273 long-term empty properties in Adur and 392 in Worthing.

A change in the law as part of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 means councils are for the first time allowed to charge a council tax premium on properties that are not someone's main residence but are substantially furnished.

The change has to be introduced a year before the first charges are made, so the councils will charge double the rate of council tax on such homes from April 1, 2025.

The act also allows councils to add a supplementary charge to the amount of council tax due on properties which have been left “unoccupied or substantially unfurnished” for at least a year. Previously, they could only add a charge when a property was in that condition for at least two years.

That change comes in immediately so property owners affected will get a council tax bill for twice the normal amount for 2024/25.

There will be some exemptions, such as if residents have recently died, if homes are being actively marketed for sale or rent or if major repairs are under way.

A council spokesman said: “We are increasing our charges in the hope it will persuade property owners to either sell or let their homes in the area if they do not need them all year.

We're building new social housing on sites we own and looking for other land that could be developed for council homes. We're also working with developers to ensure that genuinely affordable properties are built in Adur and Worthing.”

There are around 950 households on Adur's housing list, with around 1,900 on Worthing's list.

The councils said this is in addition to other residents who may be living with family and friends because of a shortage of affordable properties for them to rent or buy in the area.

Councillor Angus Dunn, Adur's cabinet member for resources, said: “We have very little space in Adur to build new properties so we have to make sure that every home in the district that can be used is being used.

“Increasing the amount of council tax due on empty properties will hopefully persuade owners to either use them or sell them to avoid the extra charge.”

Councillor Emma Taylor-Beal, Worthing's cabinet member for housing and citizen services, said: “We're in the grip of a housing crisis and as a council for the community, we're doing everything we can to find more properties in Worthing for those who need a roof over their head.

“We can't create more land to build on - we need to make full use of all the homes we already have in Worthing.”