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Why empty homes?

According to  Scottish Government data there are over 37,000 long term private sector empty homes in Scotland.  A property becomes 'long term' empty when it's been unoccupied for 6 months or more.

Work on empty homes can achieve positive outcomes with regards to:

  • Housing Supply
  • Community Regeneration/Town Centre Renewal
  • Sustaining Rural Communities
  • Restoring Confidence in local property markets
  • Discouraging Anti-Social Behaviour (due to fire/vandalism/flytipping of empty properties)
  • Climate Change and Sustainability

Work on empty homes also represents value for money. The Empty Homes Agency in England has estimated that the cost of refurbishing an empty home is between £6,000 - £25,000. The average cost of a new build home in Scotland is £100,000 +.  And of course when you are bringing an empty home back  into use the infrastructure and local services will already be in place.

Empty Homes work has many tangible benefits for communities and local authorities.  The Empty Homes Value Tool is intended for use by Empty Homes Officers to show the monetary and social value of their work.

The Scottish Government 2009 review of the Private Rented Sector identified the need for a national post to support councils who wish to pursue empty homes work. The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership was established as a result of that recommendation and began its work in June 2010.

Empty Homes cannot solve housing supply issues alone, but they can be part of a holistic solution to provide local affordable housing and to regenerate communities.  The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership provides support for organisations including councils, housing associations, community  groups and others, to develop policies and processes that will bring private sector empty homes back into use.  This includes working closely with local council Empty Homes Officers to facilitate best practice sharing.  The Partnership also runs a rolling programme of Empty Homes Shared Services Projects that enable councils to pilot empty homes work  within their council before creating longer term mainstream empty homes services.

If you know of an empty home or property in your area, contact your local empty homes officer or report it at emptyhomes@shelter.org.uk or phone our Empty Homes Advice Service on 0344 515 1941.

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