Owners of unoccupied homes are being urged to consider selling them on to help free-up properties for people struggling to find accommodation.
South Ayrshire Council operates an Empty Homes initiative, where prospective buyers are put in touch with private owners to explore ways of bringing properties back into use.
The Empty Homes initiative has been in place since 2011 and in the last two years more than 50 properties have been brought back into permanent use. There are currently around 500 empty properties in South Ayrshire.
The Government funded programme provides useful advice and assistance to owners of empty homes including discounts in VAT and concessions with builder’s merchants and is part of a national network of Empty Homes officers working to increase the supply of affordable housing.
David Burns, South Ayrshire Council’s Head of Housing and Facilities said there were was potential to increase the supply of homes, “Demand for housing remains high and there are a large number of properties in South Ayrshire that could be quickly brought back into use.
“Properties that have fallen into disuse can quickly deteriorate, making them less attractive to prospective tenants and a financial burden to their owners, but help is available that could transform buildings for the common good.
“We are already talking to a number of owners and buyers with the aim of seeing even more families welcomed to refurbished properties and would urge anyone with an interest in finding out more to get in touch.”
Loans of up to £20,000 are also available for owners of empty properties to carry out repairs and refurbishments on the condition that the property is rented at an affordable rate.
The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership is funded by the Scottish Government and hosted by Shelter Scotland.
Shaheena Din, Scottish Empty Homes Partnership national manager, said, “With 34,000 privately owned properties sitting empty for more than six months in Scotland it is encouraging to see that in South Ayrshire real progress is being made to bring buildings back into use.
“Reducing the number of long-term empty homes has a part to play in easing the housing crisis which is leaving so many without a safe and secure home they can afford.
“The owners of empty homes often feel overwhelmed by the work needed to get a property ready to let out or sell it. That’s why there is expert advice available form their local empty homes initiatives to help them make a plan to generate income for them and a home for someone who needs one.”
A house in St Leonard’s Road in Ayr had fallen into disrepair after the previous owner moved away, with the building empty for more than two years. Neighbours had reported concern about vandalism and anti-social behaviour at the property which was investigated by South Ayrshire Council. The Council helped the owners find a buyer through the Council’s Matchmaker Scheme, with the property sold to Helco Developments Ltd in December 2016 and is now ready for use as a family home following a full refurbishment.
In December 2016, South Ayrshire Council agreed a target to build a new generation of affordable homes to help meet existing needs. The Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) will pave the way for almost 600 new homes to be built in the next five years.