Allan Welcomes Action On Empty Homes

>> 22 January 2012

Peterhead North & Rattray councillor and SNP Housing spokesperson on Aberdeenshire Council Anne Allan has welcomed plans outlined by the Scottish Government to give councils greater enforcement powers to clamp down on empty homes.

There are around 25,000 long-term empty homes across Scotland, located in urban, rural and island communities.  Housing Minister Keith Brown plans to unveil more details in a consultation later this year.

In the meantime, the Scottish Government will be working with Shelter Scotland and the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership to develop enforcement proposals which are suitable for Scotland.

One of the new measures being floated is an enforced sale power, where the local authority could apply for powers to sell a property which has been empty for a long time.

This type of power would only be used in cases where a Council's attempts at working with the owner to bring an empty home back into use have not worked and it is in the public interest to ensure the home is not left empty.

Commenting, Cllr Anne Allan said:

"Any initiative aimed at providing more homes is to be welcomed.  The council is faced with ever increasing waiting lists and has a limited number of houses available to let, so bringing empty homes back into use is a way of making a real difference to homeless families."

Currently, if an owner cannot be found or will not work with a Council, local authorities can only use a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) to bring a home back into use.

Empty homes are considered a wasted resource at a time when there is high demand for extra homes in many parts of Scotland.

Mr Brown also confirmed that the Scottish Government is part-funding three new pilot shared empty homes officer posts, which will help Councils work with empty home owners to help them to rent or sell their home.

Housing Minister Keith Brown MSP said:

"Empty Homes are a scar on our landscape that can have a negative impact on the quality of Scotland's cities, towns and villages.

"Many Councils have indicated to us and to Shelter that more enforcement powers are needed to tackle certain empty homes which have in some cases been empty for many years.

"That is why we plan to consult on greater enforcement powers for Councils to give them more tools to deal effectively with the most problematic long-term empty homes.

"Owners faced with the prospect of an enforced sale of their property, would, I am sure, see sense and bring the house or flat back into use.

"We are also encouraging Councils to consider using their council tax revenue from empty and second homes to develop an empty homes loan fund, which would provide interest-free loans to help owners to bring their properties back into use as affordable housing."

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