A blog comment from a few weeks ago suggested that property owners who want to leave their properties empty should invest in Scotland to escape empty dwelling management orders. For anybody who’s tempted, bad news I’m afraid. This from the Herald last week suggests the Scots are thinking about introducing EDMOS there too.
But hold on a minute, I’m not sure the Scottish Executive will be so keen. From my dealings with them they have tended to take a very hands-off approach to the issue of empty homes. I have heard them say that empty homes are less of a problem in Scotland then in England (not actually true 3.7% of Scottish homes are empty compared to 3.2% in England) And their view on intervention seems to be if Scottish local authorities see empty homes as a local issue it’s up to them to do something about it. This approach may have had some merit in the past. The Scottish Executive used to operate a scheme called the Empty Homes Initiative. Scottish local authorities were invited to competitively bid for funds to help private empty home owners renovate derelict homes. The scheme was by all accounts a success with 1400 empty homes being returned to use between 1999 and 2002. But after 2002 the scheme was dropped. Scottish local authorities are now expected to fund empty homes work from their own resources. Most don’t.
An indication of the Scottish Executive’s current thinking on the issue can be found here in Homes for Scotland’s People: A Scottish Housing Policy Statement “In Scotland there is no indication that empty homes are a problem in the private sector in areas of housing shortage.” It says. The implication of that thinking is that if there is no housing shortage empty homes don’t matter. This is short sighted. Empty homes are least likely to be found where there is a housing shortage and most likely to be found in large numbers where there is an oversupply of housing. With little encouragement from the Scottish Executive and no money for local authorities it is hard to see how the problem is going to be resolved. May be they do need EDMOs up there.