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Housing bills rings the changes

May 10 2012
A £2 million loan fund will bring empty homes back into use, says Scottish government


A £2 million loan fund is to be made available to bring empty homes back into use, the Scottish Government announced last month.

The new funding was announced as the Unoccupied Properties Bill, which will allow local authorities to charge extra Council Tax on houses that have been empty for more than a year, was introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

The new loan fund will be specifically targeted at projects to bring empty homes into use for affordable housing. It is hoped that this will include council or housing association schemes offering loans to help owners renovate their homes in exchange for the properties being made available as affordable housing.

Business rates are also to be cut from 50 per cent to 10 per cent for empty high street properties as part of the bill, aiming to get shops back up and running.

Keith Brown, Housing Minister, said: “Long-term empty homes are a blight on communities. They often fall into disrepair, and become a focus for antisocial behaviour like vandalism or fly tipping.

“We will not simply stand by and let this continue to happen. That should be a strong incentive for owners who are simply ignoring empty homes to either sell or let the property to someone who needs it, or bring it back into use themselves.”

Kristen Hubert, coordinator of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, co-ordinated by homeless charity Shelter Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government said: “This £2 million loan fund and new powers for councils is great news and a step in the right direction for tackling Scotland’s private sector empty homes.”