Conference to hear of step-change for empty homes work in Scotland

A property in Perth that was formerly empty

Delegates from across Scotland will hear about the range of successful initiatives and projects bringing new momentum to the challenge of turning long-term private empty properties in to homes again.

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership’s 7th Annual Conference in Stirling today will hear from housing minister Kevin Stewart and keynote speakers on new strategies for bringing empty homes back into use, rural empty homes solutions, a project from Leeds which refurbishes empty properties for people in housing need and will hear about the new legislation for Compulsory Sales Orders for empty properties which officers want to be introduced as soon as possible.

Winners of the Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Champions of the Year Awards will also be announced. This year sees the introduction of the People’s Vote where members of the public have been voting for the first time for their Scottish Empty Homes Champion, this received over 1000 votes and was a close call between the nominees.

The SEHP now has a network of 24 empty homes officers working across 22 local authorities in Scotland. So far, they have helped bring 3,652 homes back into use with an estimated market value of more than £500 million. There are around 37,000 more empty homes in Scotland which are worth around £5 billion at today’s average house price.

The SEHP is hosted by Shelter Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, which last year doubled the funding for the SEHP, enabling it to significantly increase its capacity.

The SEHP said that owners are missing out if they don’t make the most of their assets which also have the potential to play a role in housing people badly in need of affordable homes. It also wants more local councils to recognise the value to the economy of tackling empty homes.

Shaheena Din, Scottish Empty Homes Partnership national manager, said: “Once more we can report that empty homes work across Scotland continues to make strong progress, with more than 800 properties being brought back into use since last year’s conference. This success is down to the fantastic efforts of the 24 empty homes officers working across 22 of Scotland’s local authorities and continued commitment of the Scottish Government.

“Our aim now is for a step-change in activity across our network – with the main challenge of getting the rest of Scotland’s councils on board, to invest in empty homes work and to consider the innovative examples as a possible solution to empty homes in their area.”

Shaheena Din added: “The value of long-term private empty properties in Scotland is estimated to be around £5bn – which is a staggering level of assets doing nothing or rotting away. It simply doesn’t make sense for people to leave a property sitting empty when it could be bringing in money for them and providing a home for someone who needs one. There is extensive advice available to make it possible for people to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of moving back into a property, letting it out or selling it by calling the Empty Homes Advice Service on 0344 515 1941.”

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