A free helpline has been set up to make it easier for people in the Scottish Borders to report empty homes in the area, and for owners to receive help to bring homes back into use.
Set up by the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, which is run by housing charity Shelter Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government, the service also offers access to a free matchmaker service to make it easier for potential buyers of empty homes to pinpoint empty properties whose owners are willing to sell.
Until now, potential buyers who want to buy an empty home needed to register their interest with each individual council area they were interested in buying an empty home in. The process has now been simplified with one central helpline.
To report an empty home, get advice if you are the owner of an empty home or register interest in buying empty properties, people in the Borders can now call 0344 515 1941.
There are an estimated 27,000 long-term private empty homes across Scotland.
Kristen Hubert of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, said: “We encourage people to call the helpline if they know of a long-term empty home in their area, or if they’re in fact the owner of an empty property.
“The helpline is manned by expert staff who will discuss all the options available to help transform empty houses back into homes again.
“Whatever the reason for an empty home – whether it’s because the owner has sentimental attachment to it or they simply don’t have the finances to carry out repair work, help is available. Bringing empty homes back into use has many benefits and whilst this alone won’t solve Scotland’s housing crisis, it can be part of the solution.”
She added: “We hope that both owners of empty homes in the Borders and those looking to bring them back into use through purchase, will contact the helpline.
“It’s a good way for owners to dip their toe in the water of selling their property, reassuring them that there are developers and other interested buyers out there, before taking the next step to selling.
“With 150,000 families and individuals on housing waiting lists, this service is an additional step in the right direction towards bringing Scotland’s 27,000 empty homes back into use.”
Since its launch in 2010, the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership has helped to bring over 1,000 homes back into use across Scotland and has worked to establish dedicated empty homes officers within 17 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.