Bringing empty homes back into use is a win win win 

Housing spokesperson Ariane Burgess has secured commitment for more powers over empty properties

Scottish Greens housing spokesperson Ariane Burgess MSP has secured a commitment from the First Minister to strengthen powers to bring empty homes back into use.

At First Minister’s Questions, she asked Humza Yousaf what action was being taken to strengthen enforcement powers on long term empty homes, and for a reform of compulsory purchase orders to make it easier to acquire properties.

The First Minister agreed such reforms should be considered, as part of a mix including allowing councils further powers to increase council tax on long term empty homes and other measures, and announced the set up of an expert group to deliver reform.

Ms Burgess said: “Bringing empty homes back into use is a win-win-win – good for people looking for a home, good for tackling neighbourhood blight and good for the property owners too.

“Far too many private sector homes lie empty for months and even years at a time. That’s why Scottish Green MSPs have been pushing for councils to be able to have powers to raise council tax even more than the 100% currently allowed.

She added: “While the vast majority of owners will see the merit in bringing empty homes back into use voluntarily, there are some that are just stuck. And for those, councils need powers with real teeth. That’s what brings owners to the table.

“Compulsory purchase powers are one option. But they are cumbersome and out of date, so the commitment by the First Minister today to reform is welcome, but he also needs to expand the reform to look at compulsory sales and rental orders as recommended by the independent audit of empty homes last year.”