Public urged to report empty homes as helpline launched

Kristen Hubert of the Empty Homes Partnership and Shelter Scotland's Graeme Brown launch the national empty homes helpline
Pictured: Kristen Hubert of the Empty Homes Partnership and Shelter Scotland’s Graeme Brown launch the national empty homes helpline

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership has appealed to members of the public to report empty homes in their communities using a free national helpline.

The new helpline on 0344 515 1941 has been launched today and will be manned by expert empty homes staff within the offices of housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland.

The Empty Homes Partnership, launched in 2010, is run by the charity and funded by the Scottish Government, which recently extended its funding to 2018.

The new helpline will offer advice on the wide range of options for bringing empty homes back into use, linking callers up with local empty homes officers and providing information on locally available empty homes funding.

Once reports are received through the helpline, an empty homes officer will work to identify and contact owners, as well as working with local authorities to facilitate bringing the property back into use, either through a sale or rental.

It is thought the initiative will help bring a number of Scotland’s 27,000 empty homes back into use, benefiting young renters and first-time buyers.

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “The launch of the national empty homes helpline is another step towards bringing more of Scotland’s 27,000 long-term private empty homes back into use.

“Whatever the reason for an empty home – whether it’s because the owner has sentimental attachment to it or they simply don’t have the finances to carry out repair work, help is available. Bringing empty homes back into use has many benefits and whilst this alone won’t solve Scotland’s housing crisis, it can be part of the solution.

“We encourage people to call the helpline if they know of a long-term empty home in their area, or if they’re in fact the owner of an empty property. The helpline is manned by expert staff who will discuss all the options available to help transform empty houses back into homes again.”

Housing minister Margaret Burgess MSP praised the “innovative scheme” and said housing was at “the heart of the Scottish Government’s ambitions to create a fairer and more prosperous country”.

She added: “By calling the helpline to report empty homes the public can play their part in breathing new life into town centres, aiding community regeneration and bringing empty homes back in to use.”

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