New move on empty homes

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MINISTERS say new funding could bring more than 400 empty homes back into use for communities across Scotland.

Seventeen housing associations, councils and house builders submitted successful bids for the Scottish Government’s Empty Homes Loans Fund.

The fund will help private owners renovate empty homes in exchange for them being made available as affordable housing for at least five years.

There are around 25,000 empty homes across Scotland that are classed as long-term empty located in urban, rural and island communities.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Empty homes are a blight on many communities across Scotland. Standing empty these properties are no use to anyone. Renovated, they could provide much-needed new homes for hundreds of people.

“That is why more needs to be done to make better use of these existing assets. Bringing empty homes back into use makes sense because it is a cost-effective way of increasing the supply of housing available to families across Scotland’s communities.

“The Empty Homes Loan Fund, and wider work being taken forward by Councils as a result of the Shelter Scotland-led Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, can help significantly reduce the number of wasted, empty homes across Scotland.”

Kristen Hubert, coordinator of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, which is hosted by Shelter Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, said: “It is pleasing and highly encouraging that so many worthy projects have been given the go ahead.

“Having an incentive like a loan to offer owners of empty homes is a key part of getting people to engage with our growing network of Empty Homes Officers and make positive choices about their properties.

“We will work with the successful bidders to help them make the most of their projects.”

Councillor Harry McGuigan from COSLA said: The fund is a welcome contribution to Scotland’s overall housing stock, and will greatly assist local government’s empty home officers on making real progress locally in relieving housing pressure.

“Encouraging owners to bring housing stock back to the affordable rental market will make a valuable contribution in tackling homelessness, directly and indirectly, and remove what can be neighbourhood blight.”