A new council loan fund to help bring Midlothian’s empty homes back into good use has been launched.
There are just over 23,000 long term empty homes in Scotland and in Midlothian that number stands at 427.
These types of properties sometimes attract anti-social behaviour including squatters and vandalism.
The owners also lose money from rental income and paying council tax on a property which isn’t lived in and empty homes do not have good sales potential to buyers.
Now the council has organised an interest free loan scheme which can be used to bring empty properties back into use, including those which might be in poor condition,
Loans ranging from £2,000 to £12,500 are available to empty home owners wishing to bring their empty properties back into use and are administered by the council, in partnership with Dunedin Canmore Housing Association.
Refurbishment or replacement work can include kitchens, bathrooms, new boilers, storage tanks, painting and other jobs to bring properties back up to an improved standard.
Councillor Owen Thompson (SNP), cabinet member for housing, said: “This is a great scheme to bring empty homes or run-down properties back into good use.
“This issue is often overlooked and not a lot of people know about empty homes, but it’s a problem here and in the rest of Scotland. Empty properties can be an expensive problem for homeowners, they can also attract anti-social behaviour.
“We are delighted to be launching this funding programme, which will not only help the homeowner but the rest of the local community.”
Kristen Hubert, Coordinator of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, said: “We welcome the measures by Midlothian Council to enable owners of empty properties to bring them back into use.
“Loans can form part of a holistic empty homes service and work best when combined with advice and support from councils on the many ways empty homes can be brought back into use.
“Empty Homes cannot solve housing supply issues alone, but they are a wasted resource which can be part of efforts to provide local affordable housing and to regenerate communities.”
A long term empty home is one that been vacant for six months or more.
For further information on the scheme log on to www.midlothian.gov.uk or contact the council’s Housing Strategy Team on 0131 271 6698