Fall in empty homes but warning of cost of living threat to refurbishments

THE Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) has warned that the cost-of-living crisis could make it harder to sell homes or refurbish empty properties this year.

The organisation welcomed a fall in the number of long-term empty properties as statistics published by the Scottish Government show the number fell for the second consecutive year in 2022 – down 2% from 43,766 to 42,865.

However, SEHP said there was a ‘mixed picture’ in different parts of the country. Three local authorities (Aberdeen City, Dumfries and Galloway, and East Ayrshire) saw reductions of more than 10% in the number of long-term empty properties, while seven (West Dunbartonshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Highland, Orkney Islands, Dundee City, South Lanarkshire) saw increases of more than 10%.

Shaheena Din, national project manager for Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, said, “It is encouraging that the number of long-term empty properties has fallen again this year. It’s particularly good to see that the numbers of empty homes in Aberdeen fell by almost a third, reversing a trend of rising numbers there for several years.

“However, it is a concern that there have been some large increases in other parts of the country, and we know that the cost of living crisis may make it harder to sell or refurbish empty properties in the year ahead.

“At the same time, rising prices mean that many people are struggling to afford the cost of renting or buying a home. Empty homes give us an opportunity to develop innovative approaches to address the housing crisis and increase the supply of social and affordable housing. This will be a key topic at this year’s Empty Homes Conference, ‘Reduce, reuse, revitalise’.