The owners of more than 6,000 second homes across Suffolk are now set to pay as much as double the previous rate of council tax after two more districts agreed to increases to tackle a housing shortage.

Earlier this week, cabinet members at Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils unanimously agreed to hike the council tax rate on 1,200 second homes in the two districts, which could net an extra £2m in council tax each year.

Of this sum, Babergh would receive £106,000 and Mid Suffolk £90,000 once the money had been shared with all other precepting authorities, including Suffolk County Council and the police.

READ MORE: Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils approve second homes tax

The councils have joined East Suffolk Council, which increased its council tax on 5,000 second homes last year by 100% in a bid to provide more affordable housing to address shortages.

Southwold in particular had a problem with low occupancy, with only two out of five properties being occupied full-time, while neighbouring Aldeburgh also had a high number of second homes.

These 5,000 east Suffolk homes are expected to generate an extra £12m in annual council tax, with the district receiving £2m of this revenue after the other precepting authorities have taken their share.

READ MORE: Suffolk: 'Southwold will die' without second home cash

East Anglian Daily Times: Babergh district councillor Jessie Carter wanted to bring empty homes back onto the rental marketBabergh district councillor Jessie Carter wanted to bring empty homes back onto the rental market (Image: Babergh Council)The money will be used to fund affordable homes in an effort to address a shortfall in available properties.

East Suffolk councillor David Beavan, who represents Southwold, said homeowners who were rarely present did not need extra roads, social care or police, but 'real damage' was being done to the housing market, so much so that communities were 'dying'.

He said he had noticed some second homeowners registering as businesses to avoid paying the taxes, but that new legislation was set to be introduced to ensure these businesses were genuine.

READ MORE: Southwold news

He added: "It is a cat and mouse game, but we are slowly winning and saving Southwold's community, part of the attraction that entices holidaymakers here."

In Babergh and Mid Suffolk, the tax hikes were set to hit both second homes and properties that were empty.

Cllr Jessie Carter, who moved the proposal in Babergh, said the new policy would help to tackle the housing shortage and make homes more affordable for residents currently being priced out of the market.

She said: “We are looking to encourage landlords to not have empty homes wasting away, but to have tenants living in them.

“The idea is to give people a bit of a nudge who’ve got empty homes to work with us proactively to get them back onto the rental market.”

READ MORE: Suffolk news