Public call for more to be done on Scotland’s empty homes

Public call for more to be done on Scotland’s empty homes
24 Housing, by Mark Lawrence


Only 20% of people felt Scottish local authorities were doing enough on empty homes.


The YouGov survey, commissioned by Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, found overwhelming backing for more to be done to turn derelict properties into usable homes.


Scotland has seen an increase of 7,000 empty homes since 2015, taking the total number to around 34,000.


SEHP estimate this is costing owners of empty properties around £7,500 a year.


800 privately owned homes were brought back into use last year.


The rise is said to be due to councils improving their records and more owners choosing to register buildings as empty.


The organisation said its latest figures proved that investing in expertise and dedicated resources made a huge difference to results.


Out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, 19 have a dedicated empty homes officer spending at least 10 per cent of their time on the issue.


Adam Land, head of policy at Shelter Scotland, said: “It’s fantastic to see more than 800 homes brought back into use in one year.


“That’s 800 more homes that are badly needed in a country struggling to build enough to meet demand.


“The councils that are not investing in this area of work are missing out on the money new residents bring into the local economy, they’re missing out on council tax revenue and they’re missing out on an opportunity to act on neighbourhood priorities where empty properties are attracting anti-social behaviour.”


Housing minister, Kevin Stewart, said: “Bringing empty homes back into use is a cost-effective way of increasing the housing supply and also helps with community regeneration.


“The work of the dedicated empty homes officers has proven invaluable in everything SEHP has achieved.


“Clearly there is still some way to go to ensure every area benefits, and local authorities across the country should be capitalising on the opportunities they provide.”


SEHP, funded by the Scottish Government and run by housing charity Shelter, has worked to reduce the number of empty homes since 2010.