Council marks Scottish Housing Day with scheme to bring empty homes back into use

As organisations across the country prepare to mark Scottish Housing Day, Aberdeenshire Council is highlighting its Empty Homes Advice and Information Service that aims to bring more properties back into use.

Scottish Housing Day takes place tomorrow (Wed, Sep 19), promoting messages about housing options and dispelling myths about buying, renting and being a tenant.

In Aberdeenshire, the council has drawn together a range of support and information for owners of empty properties to help them begin renovating, letting or even selling unused space.

The term ‘empty home’ describes a property that has remained unused for more than two years. Such properties often require upgrade or renovation to bring them back into use, which can be off-putting for their owners.

To encourage and support property-owners to help increase the housing supply in Aberdeenshire, the council’s Empty Homes Advice and Information Service offers can provide help over a range of key areas:

General maintenance: Advice on maintenance, keeping properties safe and secure, and guidance for those facing mortgage arrears or repossession
Repairs and renovations: Advice on renovations and possible discounts and VAT reductions that might be available
Letting: Guidance on letting and long-term lease agreements
Selling: Advice on how to make properties available for sale, and the different routes for selling
Matchmaking Scheme: A scheme to match those wishing to sell with those wishing to buy an empty property

One property owner in the Formartine area said the support provided by the council made it easier for him to begin renovations on his empty property, and to save some money in the process. 

“I found my local empty homes officer really helpful and easy to deal with,” he said.

“The letter they sent was the only proof I need that the property has been empty for more than two years so I can pay reduced VAT on the renovation work, and it saved me having to try and get proof from my energy providers. 

“It is good news the service is being promoted as I only heard about it by word of mouth.”

The work to bring empty homes back into use is just one strand of increasing housing supply in Aberdeenshire, something which is a priority for potential tenants across the area. It is essential to ensure that there is a supply available, and Aberdeenshire Council is working hard to support property owners as well as tenants in an attempt to tackle localised issues.

Communities Committee chair Cllr Anne Stirling said: “Homes can become empty for a wide variety of reasons and for many people it can be difficult to know where to start, particularly if a property requires upgrade or renovation,” said Cllr Stirling.

“Public and private sector housing is in such high demand in Aberdeenshire. We have a well-advanced new build programme and supporting others to bring homes back into use will help address some of that pressure.”

Committee vice-chair Cllr Iris Walker added: “The Empty Homes Advice and Information Service offers as much or as little support that people might need. It is an essential part of the work being done to support tenants and increase supply across the area.

“The information is all available on our website and in the form of handy leaflets, and for those looking to discuss their situation our team is happy to provide tailored support and advice. The service is free and I’d encourage anybody with an empty property to find out more.”

For more information visit https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/housing/empty-homes/ or email the team at emptyhomes@aberdeenshire.gov.uk