Three in every four adults in Scotland think that empty homes directly cause anti-social behaviour, a new survey has revealed.
Anti-social behaviour such as graffiti, vandalism, fly-tipping and break-ins are all associated with properties lying empty for long periods.
The survey showed that a majority (54 per cent) of Scottish adults felt those living nearby the empty homes had a decreased sense of security and 60 per cent thought that empty homes contributed directly to a reduction in the availability of housing. Around a half (49 per cent) think that empty homes lower the value of local properties.
The YouGov survey for the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP), which is funded by the Scottish Government and hosted by Shelter Scotland, also revealed that only three per cent of Scottish adults think empty homes cause no problems in communities.
The SEHP recently issued its annual report which said more than £110m of empty properties were brought back into use last year. It also called for new legislation of a Compulsory Sale Order power for vacant and derelict land and properties, which the Scottish Government has committed to legislate on.
There are currently around 34,000 long-term private empty homes across Scotland. Meanwhile, according to Shelter Scotland, 150,000 families and individuals are on waiting lists for a home. Last year, nearly 35,000 homelessness applications were made by households in Scotland.
Kristen Hubert, Scottish Empty Homes Partnership national manager, said: “This survey shows just how concerned people in Scotland are about empty homes in their communities. No-one likes to see empty properties being vandalised with graffiti all over them or with fly-tipping taking place. The fact that only three percent of Scottish adults think empty homes cause no problems is very telling.
“The SEHP would like to see all of Scotland’s local authorities responding pro-actively to the problem of empty homes. We think more powers to tackle the blight of empty homes such as a Compulsory Sale Order would give them the ability to force a long-term empty property or piece of land onto the open market if it hasn’t been used in three years and shows no prospect of reuse.
“This survey is strong evidence that the Scottish public share our concerns about the negative effects of long-term private empty properties on their communities. We think that investing in empty homes work can help improve neighbourhoods and make a very positive impact on communities.”
Kevin Stewart, housing minister, said: “As clearly demonstrated by this survey, empty homes are a wasted resource and can be a blight on local communities.
“That’s why the Scottish Government supports the work of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership to deliver real results on the ground. Since 2010 the Partnership has brought almost 1700 homes back into use and helped 17 local authorities to appoint dedicated empty homes officers.
“To add to the range of tools available to tackle empty homes, we are committed to bringing forward provisions for Compulsory Sales Orders as part of on-going land reform measures”.
Kristen Hubert added: “Anyone concerned about a long-term empty private property in their area should call our free national helpline on 0344 515 1941 to report it and then we can set the ball rolling to do something about it. Owners too can call for advice on the help available to them to bring their empty property back into use.”