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Published 04 February 2021

An updated Council strategy will bring at least 100 empty homes across West Dunbartonshire back into use.

The four-year Empty Homes Strategy 2021-24  has been designed to assist with housing waiting lists,  to help alleviate homelessness, support town centre regeneration and ensure a reduction in problems caused by empty properties.

It follows a previous successful plan implemented by the Council’s Housing service, which saw the number of homes being empty for more than six months reduce from 439 in 2019, to 352 in 2020.

To continue the downward trend, the Council’s Empty Homes Officer identifies empty properties through various sources including council tax records.

Owners are then provided with advice and information on various options available to them, as well as given financial and practical assistance.

The Empty Homes Strategy 2021-24 was discussed at a recent meeting of the Housing and Communities committee, where elected members approved the target to bring a minimum of 25 empty homes back into use every year in West Dunbartonshire.

Members were also told of ongoing plans from the Scottish Government to introduce compulsory sale orders for vacant homes, which the Empty Homes Officer could use as an additional tool when all other means of engaging with the owner is exhausted.

Councillor Diane Docherty, Convener of Housing and Communities, said: “Renovating empty homes is so important because it helps local economies. As we know, Covid-19 has severely affected local businesses and retailers working in building and construction.

“When an empty home is being renovated or repaired, local builders and contractors are likely to be hired, who in turn purchase materials from local suppliers. With Scottish Government figures showing that every £1 spent on renovating property in Scotland generates an additional £1.60 for the economy,  this is an important task which will benefit the whole of West Dunbartonshire.”

Councillor Caroline McAllister, Vice Convener of the Committee, added: “I am so pleased so see the progress being made to bring these empty properties back into use, and our plans to expand on these for the benefit of our communities. Not only will this help with homelessness and waiting lists, but it will also support the regeneration of our town centres."