The potential value of Scotland’s empty homes is more than £4 billion, according to the organisation tasked with bringing them back into use.

Ahead of its annual conference, The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership(SEHP), which is run by housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, says that owners of Scotland’s 27,000 long-term private empty homes should make more of their assets and bring much needed housing stock back into use.

The SEHP said that at an average sale price of £160,000, after they have been brought back into use Scotland’s empty homes could be worth more than a staggering £4.3 billion.

The partnership has already helped bring 1200 empty homes back into use with a potential value of nearly £200 million.

The national Scottish Empty Homes Conference, which took place in Edinburgh today, saw TV star and UK Empty Homes adviser and architect George Clarke deliver the keynote address in which he branded the thousands of empty homes across Scotland “a disgrace” that was leaving families without “something as fundamental as a home of their own”.

He said: “I totally support the building of new homes, and we should be building tens of thousands of them, but we need to look at other options too. It’s cheaper and quicker to refurbish empty homes than to build from scratch. It can be kinder to communities and the environment – and it makes sense in these tough economic times.

“I care passionately about this subject and I’ll leave no stone unturned in my efforts to find a solution to the problem and get these houses back into use for the families who need them.”

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Bringing Scotland’s empty homes back into use represents great value for money but it also provides homes to families and individuals who would otherwise struggle to afford a home of their own, or would be forced into expensive private rents.

“Not only have empty homes projects across Scotland helped over 1,000 families and individuals realise their dream of a home, empty homes work across Scotland has assisted the owners of these properties to make the most of their assets, while regenerating local communities and neighbourhoods.

“While we acknowledge that empty homes alone cannot solve Scotland’s housing crisis, they can be part of the solution to finding permanent and affordable homes to the 150,000 families and individuals across the country on waiting lists.

“We look forward to continuing our work alongside the Scottish Government and other partners, to bring life to empty properties across Scotland and make them into homes again.”

Margaret Burgess, Minister for Housing and Welfare, said: “Making sure everyone has access to an affordable home is at heart of the Scottish Government’s priorities, and that’s why we have increased our support for the work of the Empty Homes Partnership this year.

“We are working to bring empty and derelict buildings in town centres and across Scotland back into use by transforming these spaces into warm and comfortable homes – this is vital to improving access to affordable housing.

“It makes absolutely no sense for us to have homes lying empty when homelessness still exists in Scotland. These homes could be put to good use by people and families who are in great need of housing. Not only that, but by renovating empty spaces we are injecting new life into our communities and town centres, making them attractive places to live and work.”

The SEHP recently launched a free national helpline for members of the public to report empty homes and for owners to seek help in renovating their properties.

Advice is also available about local financial incentives – available in over 20 local authority areas – to bring empty homes back into use.

SOURCE: Scottish Construction Now

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