The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) has helped bring over 850 empty properties back into use this year, according to the charity’s 2020-21 Annual Report.

Shaheena Din, national project manager at Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, said: “I am proud that, despite the restrictions caused by Covid, empty homes officers (EHOs) have helped to bring almost 900 properties back into use across Scotland. Our team and councils have also succeeded in targeting the longest-term empty, which are the hardest problem to tackle.”

SEHP is now calling for additional powers for local authorities; including compulsory sale and compulsory rental orders to help prevent an increase in empty homes caused by the pandemic.

In total, 181 out of the 861 properties that SEHP helped to bring back into use across Scotland had been empty for more than five years. Among that number was a property in North Lanarkshire that had been empty for 18 years and was referred to the EHO following complaints from local residents.

On this occasion the EHO contacted the owner, who had been making regular visits to the property to keep it maintained, with offers of advice and assistance and they discussed options available, including the council’s buy-back scheme. This prompted the owner to sell the property privately. It was sold within three weeks of being put on the market. The EHO also supported the buyer to access discounts and the new owner moved in after renovations.

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) is funded by the Scottish Government and hosted by Shelter Scotland. It was established in 2010 to help organisations and individuals to bring private sector long-term empty homes back into use.