Most common reasons behind Scotland’s 27,000 empty homes revealed

Empty HomesA helpline set up to help reduce the number of empty homes in Scotland has revealed some of the reasons given for why privately-owned homes are left unoccupied for long periods of time.

Two of the top reasons are the fear of becoming a landlord and the responsibilities it brings, along with waiting for property prices to rise in order to sell. A lack of motivation or know-how was also often quoted as a reason for leaving homes empty for six months or longer, as well as a lack of insurance to cover the cost of repairing a damaged home.

Some empty home owners admitted they had an emotional attachment to their empty homes and found it hard to let go of them – sometimes for decades on end – because they had grown up there.

One of the more unusual reasons included an owner who did not realise for years that they had inherited a property – worth over £150,000 – after a relative passed away.

The data, compiled from calls made during the first year of the free empty homes helpline, suggests that many of the country’s 27,000 long-term empty homes could be brought back into use with the right advice and support for owners and communities.

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, which is run by Shelter Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, operates the free national helpline. It estimates that long-term private empty homes across Scotland are worth a combined total of £4.5 billion. It is estimated that the cost of refurbishing an empty home ranges from £6,000 - £25,000. The average cost of a new build home in Scotland is £100,000.

Since its launch in 2010 the partnership has helped councils and others to bring back into use over 1,750 homes across the country.

Kristen Hubert from the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, said: “One year on from the launch of the empty homes helpline, we have helped hundreds of owners to start the process of bringing their properties back into use, either for themselves or others in need of a home.

“Whatever the reason for an empty home – whether it’s because the owner has sentimental attachment to it or they simply don’t have the finances to carry out repair work, we are here to help find solutions.

“While 27,000 long term empty homes lay empty across Scotland there are 150,000 families and individuals on waiting lists for a home. Making use of the existing housing stock makes both social and economic sense and whilst empty homes alone won’t solve Scotland’s housing crisis, they can be part of the solution.”

Kristen Hubert added: “Once reports are received through the helpline from owners themselves or members of the community, an empty homes officer will work with everyone involved to facilitate bringing the property back into use, either through sale, rental or owner occupation.”

To report an empty home, call the helpline on 0344 515 1941.

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