Calls for Urgent Action to Turn Scotland’s Empty Houses into Homes

July 5, 2016

There are tens of thousands of residential properties going unused across Scotland and urgent action should be taken to put these premises to better use.

That’s according to the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP), which wants to see long-term vacant houses and apartments throughout the country turned into homes as swiftly as possible.

The organisation has pointed out in its latest report on the issue of empty homes in Scotland that there are currently as many as 150,000 individuals and families nationwide who are on the waiting list for a place to live.

In addition, Scottish councils report receiving a total of 36,000 applications of homelessness over the course of the past year.

According to the SEHP, the situation calls for urgent action to be taken to match up people who don’t have anywhere to live with empty properties that are currently being left vacant in communities across Scotland.

In particular, the organisation wants to see local councils given more powers to incentivise the repurposing of private properties that are going unused for long periods of time.

“More than half of local authorities tell us that the introduction of a compulsory sale order would be very useful in enabling them to be more effective in bringing empty homes back into use,” noted Kristen Hubert, who is the SEHP’s national manager.

Hubert also said though that there has been “real progress” made in putting empty properties to use in Scotland over the past year, with 34,000 long-term vacant residential dwellings having become new homes during that time.

However, the SEHP’s latest report says: “There continue to be challenges in pursuing effective empty homes work, primarily the restricted nature of existing financial incentives and the lack of an effective enforcement power for Scotland’s worst empty homes.”

Scotland’s housing minister Kevin Stewart said in a statement responding to the new SEHP report: “This government is committed to bringing forward provisions for compulsory sales orders as part of the ongoing programme of land reform measures.

“However, more work is needed to ensure any powers brought forward are effective in tackling the impact of abandoned buildings, particularly those that blight town centres and neighbourhoods, as well as adequately protecting the rights of owners.”

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