Nearly 2,000 homes sitting empty amid Edinburgh housing crisis

The council has received 143 reports of unoccupied privately-owned properties since the start of the year.

Nearly 2,000 homes sitting empty amid growing demand in Edinburgh housing crisis iStock

Nearly 2,000 homes in Edinburgh are sitting empty amid growing demand for housing in the city.

The council has received 143 reports of unoccupied privately-owned properties since the start of the year, bringing the current total to 1,950, new figures revealed.

This is an increase of 233 since last November and officials said this continues an “upward trend which has been observed over the last five years”.

They added that while this reflects a national trend, the council’s empty homes officer has been tasked with investigating the increase with an aim to intervene and “assist owners to bring these properties back in to use”.

Edinburgh Council’s empty homes officer Tom Veitch said the year-on-year increase in the number of unoccupied homes is “partly due to the pandemic”.

He added: “Other things include stuff like increasing cost and the availability of both labour and materials in terms of bringing some of these homes back into use and finally probably the pressures of the financial crisis around cost of living, higher mortgage rates and that increased financial caution from investors and home buyers.”

A report on the latest empty home statistics for Edinburgh highlighted that housing supply in the capital “remains under pressure in the wake of the pandemic and increasing demand”.

“This, together with the economic pressures of rising inflation and interest rates, will continue to put people at the risk of homelessness,” it added.

“Any increase in housing stock contributes to mitigating these risks in Edinburgh.”

When the authority identifies empty an home, it can seek to purchase it from the owner or in some cases acquire it through a compulsory purchase order.

Analysis of a sample of 61 properties brought back into use since the beginning of this year showed the majority were returned as either owner occupied properties or privately let homes, with just six per cent taken over by the council or housing associations.

Furthermore, the council has identified nearly £1 million of unpaid council tax arising from empty homes, which the council will seek to recover to continue funding the empty homes officer (EHO) role.

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