Council tackles issue of empty homes in the Borders

Scottish Borders Council has begun the process of appointing a dedicated empty homes officer, who will advise owners of uninhabited properties of ways in which to bring them back into use.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 1:53 pm
Concillor Mark Rowley.

Neglected empty homes can have an adverse effect on communities, such as anti-social behaviour, vandalism and falling house prices in the vicinity.

Figures from the Scottish Government show that 1,542 properties were listed as long-term empty in the Borders in 2020, with 61% of them being empty for a year or longer.

The increase in numbers of empty homes across the country is being seen as part of the economic legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic and the full impact may not be known for some time.

Homes can also become empty through normal life events; a death, people moving away for work, marriage or divorce. They typically become empty for an extended period of time when people don’t have the money, knowledge or motivation to know what to do next

Supported by the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP), the new officer, whose salary will be between £29,821.93 - £32,522.92, will provide a range of services, advice and assistance tailored to the individual needs of each owner who engages with the service.

They will also lead on the development and implementation of an empty homes strategy that will aim to ensure that empty properties in the private sector are brought back into use wherever possible.

Councillor Mark Rowley, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for economic regeneration and finance, said: “Empty homes have a negative impact on the local community and economy.

"They can lead to a reduction in property values and increases in anti-social behaviour and vandalism, all of which can result in increased levels of stress and anxiety for both property owners and neighbours, and a loss of community pride.

“By employing an Empty Homes Officer and increasing the help and support we can offer to people by bringing these properties back into use, we will help to reverse these negative effects, increase the supply of housing, and support communities across the Borders.”

The Empty Homes Officer will initially be appointed on a two-year contract to enable the council to assess the value of both the dedicated empty homes staff and the sharing of best practice to address empty homes issues.

Shaheena Din, national project manager for SEHP, said: “We are delighted that Scottish Borders Council has decided to appoint an empty homes officer.

"We know that having a specialist member of staff dedicated to supporting owners and neighbours in tackling empty homes and developing an empty homes strategy can make a real difference to local communities across the country.

“The evidence nationally is that empty homes officers can make a huge difference in reviving homes through their expansive skills and knowledge in the process. We are looking forward to finding the right person for the position and witnessing the good work they will do for our communities.”

Further information about the post, and how to apply, can be found at www.scotborders.gov.uk/jobs