Empty Homes in Scotland

 

About the Inquiry

Remit

The remit of the Committee's inquiry is as follows:

  • The extent of, and reasons for, empty homes in Scotland;
  • How effective existing legislation and policy is at addressing the problem of empty homes;
  • What more can be done to prevent homes remaining empty and to encourage owners to bring them back into use.

Background

National Records of Scotland data shows that of the 2.60 million dwellings in Scotland in 2017, 105,000 (4%) were unoccupied. These unoccupied dwellings include second homes (25,700, 1% of all dwellings) and vacant properties (79,200, 3% of all dwellings). Vacant properties include new homes which are yet to be occupied, and dwellings which are empty and awaiting demolition, amongst others.

There are many reasons why a property can be empty, such as periods when the owner may be in hospital or prison, issues relating to bereavement, inoccupancy due to long-term renovations, or difficulties in selling a home when an owner has moved. Whilst the reasons are many, there is no doubt that long-term empty homes can impact on available housing supply and the local community.

The Committee has therefore agreed to undertake a short focussed inquiry into empty homes in Scotland. The remit of the inquiry is as follows:

  • The extent of, and reasons for, empty homes in Scotland;
  • How effective existing legislation and policy is at addressing the problem of empty homes;
  • What more can be done to prevent homes remaining empty and to encourage owners to bring them back into use.

The Committee is not looking at second homes as part of its inquiry, as these are seen to raise policy and public interest considerations that are distinct from empty homes.

Read a briefing paper prepared by SPICe on empty homes in Scotland:

Evidence

Call for Views

The Committee has launched a call for written views on Friday 5 April 2019 from all interested parties as part of its scrutiny of empty homes in Scotland. Organisations and individuals are invited to submit written evidence to the Committee setting out their views on empty homes in Scotland. For further details on the Committee's call for written evidence, please see the link below.

Read the call for evidence.

Read the news release on the call for evidence.

Written Submissions

The following written submissions were received:

Read the written submissions received.

Summary of Written Evidence

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has produced a summary of the written evidence received:

Oral Evidence

Wednesday 15 May 2019

The Committee took evidence from:

  • Shaheena Din, National Manager, Scottish Empty Homes Partnership;
  • Derek Logie, Chief Executive, Rural Housing Scotland.

Papers for meeting on 15 May 2019
Official Report of meeting on 15 May 2019

Following the meeting on 15 May 2019, the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership agreed to provide the following additional written evidence:

Wednesday 5 June 2019

The Committee took evidence from:

  • Sarah-Jane Laing, Executive Director, Scottish Land and Estates;
  • Andrew Mitchell, Regulatory Services Manager, Housing and Regulatory Services, City of Edinburgh Council;
  • Joan MacLellan, Senior Strategy Officer, Corporate and Housing Services, Falkirk Council;
  • Maureen Flynn, Strategy & Policy Advisor, Housing & Technical Resources, South Lanarkshire Council;
  • Isobel Butt, Vacant Property Development Officer, Perth and Kinross Council.

Papers for meeting on 5 June 2019
Official Report of meeting on 5 June 2019

Following the meeting on 5 June 2019, Perth and Kinross Council agreed to share with the Committee a copy of a report on discretion when applying the Council Tax levy on empty homes:

Following the meeting on 5 June 2019, the Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government in relation to compulsory purchase orders and compulsory sales orders:

Visits and Events

Informal Session on Empty Homes in Scotland: 22 May 2019

On 22 May 2019, the Committee held an informal session with people who have had lived experience of empty homes. A summary note of the discussion can be found below:

Visit to East Ayrshire: 24 June 2019

Members of the Committee visited East Ayrshire on Monday 24 June 2019 to discuss the issue of empty homes with representatives of the community. A summary note of the discussion can be found below:

 
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