Scottish Land & Estates has praised the Scottish Government for doubling the amount of money it is making available for its Empty Homes Loan Fund. The scheme, which was launched yesterday, will make available £4million to bring empty properties back into use to provide affordable housing with £2million being targeted at rural communities.
The organisation, which represents 2,500 members who own or manage in excess of 15,000 rented properties across rural Scotland, has been lobbying the Government to provide much needed financial support for the renovation of empty properties to increase affordable housing supply in rural areas. The Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, of which Scottish Land & Estates is a member, had highlighted that the funding of incentives for empty home owners is a key ingredient in successfully bringing private sector empty homes back into use.
Head of Policy, Sarah-Jane Laing stated:
"Our members are the main providers of private rented housing in rural areas, a great deal of which is made available at an affordable rent to meet local housing need. They have already brought a significant number of empty properties back into use and have identified many more that require substantial investment. The costs of carrying out work in rural areas, particularly in relation to energy efficiency measures in hard to treat rural properties, should not be underestimated and when coupled with low rental income it is impossible to make the sums add up without support.
Members were disappointed when the Scottish Government withdrew the Rural Empty Property Grant, which was used to great effect across rural Scotland. However, this additional funding targeted at rural areas is very welcome and will assist in making it financially viable to bring many properties back into use, resulting in much needed housing in rural areas.