Empty properties and second homes will see their council tax doubled as part of a crackdown on underused housing.

Hackney Council’s cabinet last week (January 22) approved plans that will charge homeowners with a property that has sat empty for at least 12 months twice the usual rate.

The move is expected to come into effect in April and will expand the number of homes eligible for the increase to more than 500 across the borough.

Currently, only homes that have been vacant for two years or more have to pay the levy.

Policymakers also signalled their intent to double the council tax bill for owners of second homes – those that are used periodically rather than as a main residence – from April 2025.

It comes after the authority revealed that more than 8,000 families were on its housing waiting list, including more than 3,000 living in hostels or other temporary accommodation.

Hackney Council said that the uptick in revenue from these properties will help it to reduce its expected budget gap.

Mayor Caroline Woodley said: It can’t be right that homes in Hackney are sitting empty at a time where rents are rising, housing waiting lists are growing and buying a property is completely out of reach of so many people.

“As we work for a fairer Hackney, we’re introducing new measures that will encourage owners to use residential property as it should be used – as much-needed homes for local families who need them, rather than left empty or used as financial investments.

“But it also demonstrates that – at a time where we’re forced to make big savings – we’ll protect those who need it most and encourage property owners to do the right thing.”

Based on the borough’s council tax rate for the most recent financial year, an average empty Band D property would pay £3,546.58.

On these figures, the authority’s council tax income could increase by almost half a million pounds next year.