Aberdeen has highest number of long-term empty homes in Scotland

Aberdeen has more long-term empty homes than anywhere else in Scotland, with a total value of almost half a billion pounds, according to new research by insurance giant Admiral.

A total of 3,000 properties across the city have been empty for two or more years, according to Admiral.

The granite city tops the rankings for the number of homes unoccupied for between two and five years, with 2,037, and between five and nine years with 813.

The majority of the homes are privately-owned, which is at least in part a legacy of the decline of the oil and gas industry, resulting in a fall in demand for property.

Aberdeen City Council has won awards for its work to deal with the issue with the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership.

However, campaigners are now talking to Scottish ministers about the need for additional powers such as compulsory sale orders and compulsory rental orders help local authorities bring the homes back into use.

The research has indicated that total value of the long-term vacant housing stock in the city is £456 million, while in Edinburgh – which is second on the list – the total is less than £380m.

Shaheena Din, national project manager for the Empty Homes Partnership, said: “We know economic difficulties often result in an increase in the number of empty homes at a local level and that the longer a property stays empty, the harder it becomes to return it to use.

“We have worked closely with Aberdeen City Council on their Empty Homes approach and their team won the award for Best Empty Homes Partnership at our annual conference last year for bringing more than 130 empty properties back to use.

“Their work with third sector partners in the city was lauded, as well as their innovative matchmaker scheme which aims to match owners of empty properties with tenants or buyers.

“We are also working with government to explore if there are additional powers such as compulsory sale orders and compulsory rental orders which might help councils do more to tackle the problem of empty homes in the future.”

Ryan Houghton, Aberdeen City Council’s city growth and resources convener, added that the authority would continue to support landlords as well as pressing ahead with its own social housing programme.

He said: “The private housing sector has seen significant turmoil in the last six years, with the oil crash and Covid-19 taking its toll.

“It’s commendable that organisations such as Shelter and Aberdeen Cyrenians are finding innovative ways to support and encourage landlords to work with them to find ways to get their vacant homes back into use.

“The council will continue to endeavour with its Empty Homes outreach work to find ways to make empty properties homes for those who need them.

“It is, however, imperative we continue to deliver new high-quality homes for tenants looking to stay in the social housing sector which we will continue to do at pace.”

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