More than 700 empty Scottish homes brought back into use

This abandoned home in Bonnybridge, Falkirk, has since been brought back into use
This abandoned home in Bonnybridge, Falkirk, has since been brought back into use
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More than 700 homes lying empty for more than six months were brought back into use across Scotland last year.

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership helped local authorities and others bring 742 long-term empty private homes back into use – more than two every day.

Since 2010/11, 3,216 of these properties have been brought back into use through the partnership, with an average total market value of around £500 million.

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However, 37,135 private homes in Scotland are still empty and have been so for more than six months.

In its annual report, the partnership, funded by the Scottish Government and hosted by housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland, praised the progress so far, but said much more needs to be done.

The report makes a series of recommendations, including calling for a compulsory sale order power for vacant and derelict land and buildings, and a £3m, three-year empty homes feasibility fund to help owners assess project feasibility.

Other recommendations include all councils having an empty homes strategy and local authorities earmarking part of the Vacant Dwelling Council Tax Levy to fund an empty homes service.

The report found of the long-term empty private homes brought back into use last year, selling privately was the most popular option followed by the owners moving in and by renting out privately.

It found 20 councils now have an active empty homes officer and 26 local authorities are applying the Vacant Council Tax Dwelling Levy, which doubles council tax on empty homes.

Shaheena Din, national project manager of the partnership, said: “Our latest annual report shows that Scotland continues to make good progress on reducing the number of privately-owned empty homes across Scotland, but there is a long way to go.

“Our aim is to target as many of the remaining 37,000 long-term privately owned empty homes as possible by getting the ten councils who don’t currently have an empty homes officer to invest in empty homes work in their area.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “Long-term empty homes can be a blight on communities and are a wasted resource at a time when we need more homes, bringing them back into use is a cost-effective way to increase supply and support community regeneration.

“The work of empty homes officers across Scotland has proven invaluable, and local authorities across the country are embracing its work.

“I hope to see every area capitalising on those opportunities, to realise our ambitions of an empty homes service in each local authority and to bring back as many long-term empty homes as we can.”