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Dundee urged to use part of £6m fund to revamp empty homes

The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) has called on Dundee City Council to consider the city’s 1,209 long term empty homes as part of its strategy to address the local housing crisis.

The council recently announced a £6 million housing expenditure programme to tackle the 7,700 housing waiting list.

The average cost of bringing a long-term empty home back into use is £9,000, versus a minimum of £125,000 needed for new build properties, according to the partnership.

Furthermore, extensive renovation work to revamp an empty house can take just six months compared to a minimum of 12-18 months for the completion of new housing developments. With 600 people registered as homeless in Dundee, the speed of making additional housing available is critical.

‘Bringing empty homes back to life could form a critical part of the solution to Dundee’s housing crisis,’ said the partnership’s national project manager, Shaheena Din (pictured).

‘Building new homes will be central to Dundee’s housing strategy, but diverting even a portion of the housing fund towards the city’s empty homes would be a cost-effective and fast-acting partial solution.’

The call comes as SEHP publishes a new report showing that while the rate of empty homes in Dundee has fallen and is now in line with the national average, the data masks some significant variations between neighbourhoods.

Empty homes in Dundee City are not spread out throughout the city, with two thirds of empty homes concentrated in data zones covering just over a quarter of the city’s housing stock.

Dundee City Council data shows that the number of empty homes in Dundee has fallen 20% in the past four years, from 1,503 long-term empty homes in 2016 to 1,209 last year.

Of the 1,209 empty homes recorded in 2019, 551 had been empty for longer than one year.

‘Dundee City Council has seen significant decreases in the overall number of empty homes in recent years. The focus now must be to improve the areas of Dundee that have clusters of long-term empty homes which could become the focus of antisocial behaviour and neglect,’ added Ms Din.

A Dundee City Council spokesperson said: ‘We work with owners of private property and landlords to try and prevent properties from becoming empty homes.

‘We offer support and investment through grants for issues like security and serious disrepair. Where practical we will take steps to engage with specific owners where complaints are received about empty homes. The council is currently reviewing options on how to take our work on empty homes forward.’

Photo Credit – Supplied

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