New empty homes officer in post at Highland Council

New empty homes officer in post at Highland Council

The Highland Council is working in partnership with the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership to proactively bring privately-owned empty homes across the Highlands back into use.

With funding support from the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, the council has been able to employ Jonathan Henderson as its new full-time empty homes officer for a two-year period.

It is the responsibility of homeowners to maintain their property and to keep it in good order. However, there are many reasons why properties become empty long term and the council, with support from the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, wants to help owners to bring these homes back into use.

Jonathan Henderson will be providing advice and assistance to people who are stressed or struggling to deal with an empty home. This will include engaging with owners to understand why a property is empty and offering practical solutions and advice to turn it into a home again.

Talking about his new role he said: “I am looking forward to contributing to Highland Council’s efforts to continue improving housing access for all. We know that the private sector, including the owners of empty homes, can play a significant part in the provision of housing options so my role will be to work in partnership with communities and owners right across the Highlands to make that contribution. I am going to find it very rewarding to work with owners to bring empty properties back into use and to provide homes for people who need them.”

By having a dedicated person in post, the Highland Council and the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership recognise the importance and value of bringing empty properties back into use and the positive contribution made towards housing supply.

Shaheena Din, national project manager for Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, added: “We are delighted The Highland Council has decided to appoint an Empty Homes Officer who will work to bring empty properties back in to use so they can become someone’s home. In the last year alone, Empty Homes Officers helped bring 851 homes back in to use but with over 47,000 such properties across the country there is so much more that needs to be done.”

“Evidence gathered by the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership from across Scotland shows the positive impact of having a specialist member of staff dedicated to supporting owners and neighbours in tackling empty homes and developing an empty homes strategy can have. I am looking forward to what Jonathan will be able to achieve in the Highlands and the contribution that will make across the country.”

Cllr Laurie Fraser, vice chair of the Highland Council’s housing and property committee, commented: “It doesn’t make financial sense to allow properties to remain empty and deteriorate. The costs of empty homes to the local economy impact on both the community and the council. Community impacts include reduction in property values, anti-social behaviour, vandalism, increased levels of stress and anxiety and a loss of community pride. By bringing empty properties back into use we can help to reverse these negative effects and increase the supply of much needed housing in our communities.”

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