Aberdeen City Council plans to implement a new compulsory purchase policy to tackle empty homes and bring them back into use.

Officials said they would use compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) as a method of “last resort” when owners had repeatedly failed to engage and a property was deteriorating and creating issues for its local community.

Earlier this year Aberdeen was reported as having the highest rate of unoccupied homes of any city in Scotland, with 2,500 properties in the city classed as long-term vacant, (not lived in for at least 12 months).

On the positive side, Scottish Housing News reports that 269 private empty homes have been brought back to use in Aberdeen through a council plan to match people on the council waiting list with properties or through a specialist service designed to help homeless people.

Aberdeen City Council’s Empty Homes Policy sets out the detail on how the council will work with owners to help them to bring privately owned empty residential properties back into use.

An empty homes officer was initially recruited on a two-year temporary basis in October 2018. The post was initially funded on a 50:50 basis in conjunction with the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership. In October 2020, it was decided to fund the empty homes officer post on a permanent basis using Council Tax Second Homes funds.

Council officials say their top priorities will now include properties than have generated a complaint and are seen to be having a negative impact on their locality; those that have been empty for two years or more which are subject to the 100 per cent Council Tax levy and are in Council Tax arrears; those that are subject to enforcement action from any council service; and those that are located in the city centre.