Bringing empty homes back into use 'could help housing shortage'

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership said 43,766 long-term empty properties exist in Scotland.

Scottish Empty Homes Partnership call for abandoned properties to be brought back into use iStock

Bringing empty homes back into use will be a “key part” of solving Scotland’s housing shortage, a housing group has said.

At its annual conference on Tuesday, the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership published a four-page guide laying out the importance of bringing abandoned properties back into use.

The partnership said some 43,766 long-term empty properties exist in Scotland, along with 27,854 which have been empty for at least one year.

“By bringing empty homes back to use, alongside delivering on the ambitious Government commitment to provide an additional 110,000 affordable homes over the next ten years, of which 70% must be social homes, local authorities can make full use of the housing resources at their disposal,” the guide said.

“This will ensure that there is the widest possible range of types and tenures of homes available to all, irrespective of which part of the country or council they live in.”

Scottish Empty Homes Partnership chief policy officer, Andy Moseley, said: “The Scottish Government has set ambitious targets in its Housing to 2040 strategy.

“Although not a solution on its own, empty homes work offers a way to meet those objectives faster, enhancing existing local communities and with far less environmental impact.”

“We have all seen stories about housing shortages across Scotland.

“A sharper focus on bringing empty homes back in to use can be a key part of providing the housing Scotland needs to address these shortages now and in the future.”

In 2019, a report by the Local Government and Communities Committee at Holyrood said the Scottish Government should allow the use of compulsory sales orders to compel owners to give up their empty properties so they can be put back into use.

John Mills, the co-chairman of the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers, said: “Empty homes work is sometimes misunderstood as being a niche housing issue, but tackling Scotland’s 43,000 empty homes has a much wider impact on neighbourhoods, environment and local economies among other issue areas.”

Housing Secretary, Shona Robison, said: “Everyone should have a home. We’re working with the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership to help end the blight of empty homes on our communities by bringing more homes back into productive use as warm, safe and secure housing.”

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