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Holyrood committee to investigate issue of empty homes

The Scottish Parliament’s local government and communities committee is to launch an inquiry into the number of empty homes in Scotland and how they can be brought back into use.

According to National Records of Scotland data from 2017 around 4% of the dwellings in Scotland are unoccupied and the committee’s inquiry will examine why.

It will also examine the scale of the issue, the effectiveness of current legislation and what more can be done to prevent properties remaining empty for extended periods of time.

Although the committee stressed it is not looking at second homes as part of its inquiry, as these are distinct from empty homes.

Last year, the Scottish Greens’ housing spokesperson Andy Wightman published a report, which claimed the proportion of empty homes in Scotland had risen, from 2.76% to 3.05% – a situation he described as ‘incredulous’.

The five council areas with the greatest number of empty homes were Edinburgh, Glasgow, Fife, Aberdeenshire & Aberdeen City, according to Mr Wightman’s report.

He also revealed that Freedom of Information requests to Scotland’s 32 councils show that only two-thirds employ an empty homes officer to tackle the problem.

‘There are a number of reasons why a property can be empty, but empty homes can have a huge impact on communities and reduce available housing supply at a time when housing is in great demand,’ said committee convener, James Dornan.

‘The committee will explore the extent of the problem and the impact this can have in both urban and rural communities across Scotland.

‘We want to ensure local authorities have appropriate powers to tackle this issue and that everything possible is being done to encourage owners to put these empty homes back into use. To do this we want to hear from local authorities, housing experts and those who have been impacted by empty homes in their communities.’

 

The Committee is calling for evidence on its webpage and the deadline written views is 17 May.

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