Scottish Borders joins the fight against empty homes

Scottish Borders joins the fight against empty homes

Scottish Borders Council is appointing a dedicated Empty Homes Officer as part of plans to help owners bring long-term empty properties back into use and reduce the impact that neglected empty homes can have on communities in the Borders area.

Supported by the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) the officer 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.

Scottish Government figures show that an increase in empty homes is being experienced across Scotland, with 1,542 properties being listed as long-term empty in Scottish Borders in 2020. 61% of these properties had been empty for a year or longer. SEHP have noted that the increase in numbers of empty homes across the country is part of the economic legacy of the pandemic and that the full impact of COVID-19 on long-term empty homes may not be known for some time following the second lockdown.

Homes 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. By investing in a dedicated empty homes service and helping to bring empty homes back into use, councils can provide a vital income stream to businesses and the local economy as well as improving local communities and making more homes available for those who need them.

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 Scottish Empty Homes Partnership commented: “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. We are proud to be partnering with Scottish Borders on this project.”

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 Scottish Borders.

“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 via

Header image shows a home in the Scottish Borders that has been successfully refurbished after lying empty for a long period of time.

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