What is an Empty Home?
A long term empty home is any privately owned home which has been empty for 6 months or more.
Empty homes are a wasted resource that could be used to help meet housing need, but instead help contribute to the UK’s housing shortage. They can also cause problems for residents living in their vicinity, and can have a negative impact on the wider community.
Bringing empty homes back into use can increase housing supply, improve community safety and contribute to regeneration.
Costs to owners
An empty home can cost its owner £1,000s/year, through:
- Council tax
- Security (e.g. boarding up windows)
Bringing an empty property back into use not only saves the owner these costs, it can provide £1,000s/year in rental income, or a significant lump sum through sale to a new owner.
What is the Council’s role with empty homes?
It is an owner’s responsibility to look after their property. However, if a home gets ‘stuck’ as an empty, the Council can play a role in helping to fix the problem.
We do this through the Homes Again Project, which is a partnership between five local authorities (Dumfries & Galloway, East Lothian, Fife, Scottish Borders and West Lothian). The Empty Homes Officers work with owners in these areas, and with other services in the Council, to find the best ways to bring empty properties back into use.
How does the Council work with owners?
A lot of properties are empty for legitimate reasons, and the Council appreciates that renovations and sales take time. We will rarely need to get involved in these circumstances.
The Council’s focus is on advice and support for owners who want to do something with their empty property: providing information about the range of options available to help owners select the solution that is right for them. We also look at what can be done about problematic properties, and those where the owner has no intention of returning a property to use.
We have a limited number of interest free loans available to owners of homes that have been vacant for more than 6 months to carry out predominantly internal renovations costing from £5,000, up to a maximum loan amount of £10,000.
The Council is particularly looking for 1 & 2 bedroom properties, however larger properties may be considered if in areas of high housing need and where the home would otherwise remain empty for the foreseeable future. See publication attached or contact the Empty Homes Officer details below.
Do you own an empty home?
The range of things you could do with your empty property include a variety of different options for letting it out, living in it yourself or selling. If you would like more information on what you could do with your empty property and the help available, or would just like to talk with the Empty Homes Officer, using the contact details below.
Report an empty home
If you are concerned about an empty property, you can report it using the national website www.reportemptyhomes.com. Please provide as much information as possible about the property, including a precise address. This information will help identify what action is needed.
Do you want to buy an empty home? See our page on Property Matchmaker