A long term empty home is any privately owned home which has been empty for 6 months or more.
Empty homes are a wasted resource that could be used to help meet housing need, but instead help contribute to the UK's housing shortage. They can also cause problems for residents living in their vicinity and can have a negative impact on the wider community.
Bringing empty homes back into use can increase housing supply, improve community safety and contribute to regeneration.
If you own an empty home
There are a variety of different ways you can bring your property back into use through letting it out, living in it yourself or selling. If you are an empty home owner and have not had a letter, please contact us for information on how West Lothian Council can help.
Alternatively, advice is available from the Empty Homes pages of the Shelter Scotland website. The Empty Homes team at Shelter Scotland can be contacted on 0344 515 1941 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is able to:
Provide first level empty homes advice to empty home owners, neighbours and organisations interested in empty homes work;
Make referrals to the network of local Empty Homes Officers working in Scotland's Local Authorities;
Follow up on empty homes reports and pursue empty homes case work in areas without a local empty homes service;
Provide information on where empty homes grants and loans are available throughout the country and link into local Empty Homes Matchmaker Schemes
Report an empty home
If you are concerned about an empty property, you can report it using the national website. Please provide as much information as possible about the property, including a precise address. This information will help identify what action is needed.
The Council's role with empty homes
It is an owner's responsibility to look after their property. However, if a home gets 'stuck' as an empty, the Council can play a role in helping to fix the problem.
Changes to Council Tax
From 1 April 2018, their current 10% Council Tax reduction will be removed and Council Tax will be twice the full charge for the valuation band the property is in.
The council is also offering support to owners of long-term unoccupied homes to bring their properties back into working use.
If the property is being actively marketed for sale or let, owners may be entitled to a reduction of 50% for a period of up to 24 months from the date the property was last occupied, as long as sufficient evidence can be provided to show the property is being actively marketed.
Those who believe their property has been incorrectly classed as long-term unoccupied should provide information on who is liable for paying Council Tax as soon as possible by calling 01506 282020 (option 2) or emailing email@example.com
Owners of empty homes in West Lothian can also obtain assistance, information and advice from West Lothian Council to bring their properties back into use, either for rent or sale.
Possible options include renting out your property through the council, which offers a guaranteed rental with no void rent loss periods for a minimum 12 month period, or selling your empty home to the council if it meets the criteria.
For more information on bringing an empty property back into use, please call Gillian Edwards in the council's Housing Strategy & Development team on 01506 281376.