Empty homes scheme tackling North Lanarkshire housing shortage

A former empty home in Bellshill
A former empty home in Bellshill

A scheme to tackle the scourge of empty homes across North Lanarkshire is continuing to go from strength to strength.

North Lanarkshire Council has now brought 88 such properties back into use for council tenants to rent in towns and villages across the authority area.

Over £5 million has been spent since the scheme was started in 2013. The scheme involves the council buying long term privately owned empty houses and flats, refurbishing them and renting them out to tenants.

The homes are identified in areas where the council has a need for additional housing or where the purchase of a property will enable the council to take complete ownership of blocks of flats making communal repairs much easier to complete.

Catriona Arbuckle, empty homes officer with the council, said: “The scheme has been a real success so far and we’ve had some really positive feedback from local people, elected members and our tenants.

“There are a number of vacant private properties which are often in serious disrepair which cause concerns within our communities. Wherever possible, and if they are in areas of high council house demand, we try to engage with owners and see if they would be interested in the council buying back their property.

“With a budget of £1m per year, the scheme has had some great successes and can make a real difference to streets and towns across North Lanarkshire. In addition, our help and advice to homeowners service has also helped bring a further 51 properties back into use and remaining in private ownership.”

The properties considered for buy back must be empty and meet at least one of the specific criteria:

  • there is an identified need for the type and size of property;
  • the purchase of the property would give the council complete ownership of a block and allow major common works to proceed; or
  • to meet the particular needs of a household which cannot be met from within the existing council stock.
  • Convener of enterprise and housing, Councillor Allan Graham, said: “There is a huge demand for affordable housing across North Lanarkshire and it’s vital we look at different ways of increasing the supply of homes for our tenants.

    “The Empty Homes Purchase Scheme helps improve town centres and local communities by bringing empty homes back into use as well as providing a cost effective way of increasing council stock.”

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