A Glasgow City Council committee today (19 November) examined the proposed Empty Homes Strategy for the city. The three-year strategy – a part of the wider Glasgow Housing Strategy – aims to bring long-term empty homes back into use, as part of the council’s commitment to increasing the city’s housing supply.
Glasgow currently has 2,687 homes listed as being empty for six months or more, and this figure does not include second homes.
The most common reasons for homes becoming empty for a long time include: mortgage default and repossessions; deceased or untraceable owners; property title issues; and properties which have fallen into a poor state of repair.
Under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2010, local authorities can now use Council Tax records to identify vacant homes and bring them back into use, and from 2018, a surcharge of up to 100% Council Tax can be charged to owners of empty homes which are not being marketed for sale or rent. Glasgow is the only Scottish local authority which alerts home owners prior to this application of the premium charge, with 433 owners notified of this up to eight weeks before it was applied.
The Glasgow Housing Strategy – now halfway through its five-year life – had set a target of 475-570 long-term empty homes being returned to use by end of that period, and this is ahead of schedule, with 380 homes now back in use, most of which are now socially rented.
The aims of the proposed Empty Homes Strategy include:
- Increasing the availability of housing stock to meet demand, providing good-quality accommodation for those who need it;
- Offering home owners information and advice to help bring properties back into use;
- Identifying opportunities for suitable housing for particular groups, such as larger families, homeless people, and those with a variety of support needs;
- Tackling environmental and neighbourhood blight;
- Safeguarding the interest of tenement flat owners to facilitate common repairs work; and
- Working closely with registered social landlords to deliver key housing strategies.
If approved, the strategy will see council officers aiming to bring between 200-250 empty homes back into use annually over three years. In addition, they will promote the reporting of empty homes in local areas to help develop a city-wide database of such properties. Compulsory purchase powers will be used, and the council will work with registered social landlords to provide assistance to buy empty homes through its acquisition strategy.
The report will now be referred to the council’s City Administration Committee for a decision on approval.