The review of the private rented sector identified the need for a focus on bringing Scotland's empty homes back into use, particularly, but not exclusively, to house homeless or low-income households. Long-term empty properties are a wasted resource at a time when Scotland needs more homes, and can be a blight on communities. Our focus is on bringing as many empty homes back into use as possible.
The latest figures, for September 2016, show that there were 35,727 properties that had been empty for more than six months, a reduction on the previous year. Of these, just under over half (20,784 or 58%) had been empty for over 12 months.
Empty Homes Partnership
Since 2010, we have funded a partnership with Shelter Scotland to help councils work with owners of empty homes. The partnership has brought more than 1,700 homes back into use so far.
More information on the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership is available on the Shelter Scotland website.
Shared Service Empty Homes Officers
Following the success of the Empty Homes Partnership, we have part-funded shared service empty homes officers, who work strategically across specific council areas to tackle problematic empty homes. Currently, more than half of Scotland's councils have access to a dedicated Empty Homes Officer.
Shelter Scotland has a list of contact details for Empty Homes Officers across Scotland.
Town Centre Empty Homes Fund
This £4 million fund was launched in 2015. Its aim was to create affordable homes for sale and rent by converting disused commercial premises. It also targeted long-term empty homes needing renovation to make them habitable again. Ten applications were approved for funding.
The successful projects are listed below:
|Town||Project||Amount||Number of new homes|
|Inverness||Hill Place House||£140,000||2|
|Glasgow||Carntyne Old Church||£950,000||19|
|Glasgow||Hillend Road, Lambshill||£75,000||2|
|Glasgow||Kilmuir Drive, Arden||£60,000||2|
Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Properties etc.) (Scotland) Act 2012
To encourage property owners to bring their properties back into use, the Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Properties etc.) (Scotland) Act 2012, and its subsequent regulations, allow councils to both remove the discount on certain types of unoccupied homes and increase the level of council tax payable on these properties.
The new powers came into effect in April 2013. It is up to individual councils to decide if a council tax increase is appropriate in their area. In 2015 and 2016, 20 councils made use of the power.
Empty Homes Loan Fund
In 2012, we introduced a £4.5 million Empty Homes Loan Fund to provide loans to councils and private organisations to help them renovate long-term empty properties to be made available as affordable housing.
Seventeen projects were approved for loans over the 10-year life of the fund. A table of successful projects appears below.
The fund is now closed for applications.
|Project||Council area(s) covered||Total number of units||Funding offered|
|Angus Empty Homes Bid||Angus||7||£120,000|
|Glasgow Empty Homes Partnership Programme||Glasgow||25||£700,000|
|Edinburgh Empty Homes Loan Fund||Edinburgh||70||£750,000|
|Highlands Empty Homes Initiative||Highlands||30||£400,000|
|Inverclyde Empty Homes Initiative||Inverclyde||40||£350,000|
|West Dunbartonshire/Renfrewshire Empty Homes Project||West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire||30||£300,000|
|North Ayrshire Empty Homes Recyclable Loan Fund||North Ayrshire||50||£200,000|
|Homes Again Empty Homes Bid||Scottish Borders, Fife, East Lothian||96||£450,000|
|Outer Hebrides Empty Homes Scheme||Comhairle nan Eilean Sar||10||£155,000|
|Homes Again Project - West Lothian Council bid||West Lothian||32||£150,000|
|Midlothian Empty Homes Loan Fund||Midlothian||10||£450,000|
|Rural Stirling Empty Homes Project||Stirling||6||£90,000|
|Private Sector Empty Homes Loan Fund||East Ayrshire||25||£250,000|
|Falkirk Empty Homes Loan Fund||Falkirk||20||£100,000|
|Clackmannanshire Town Centre Empty Homes Initiative||Clackmannanshire||10||£75,000|