Project turns empty house into family home

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A long-term empty property in Kirkcaldy has been transformed into an affordable rented family house thanks to an empty homes initiative.

The Birnam Road house had been empty for 10 years and was identified as a suitable case for the project through council tax records.

Following issues with tenants, owner Garry Cairns decided to leave the property empty.

Recently, Mr Cairns returned an empty homes survey.

The empty homes officer met with Mr Cairns to discuss the situation, including available VAT discounts. This discussion helped him realise that he did not need to do much to get the property up to a standard where it could be let out. Mr Cairns completed work on the property in January.

Housing minister Margaret Burgess visited the home in Birnam Road, which has been restored with the help of the Scottish Government part-funded Homes Again project.

Funding allows the Homes Again project to employ two officers through housing charity Shelter, who track down long-term empty homes and give owners advice and assistance to restore the properties.

In Fife, 11 empty homes have been brought back into use since the initiative began.

Mrs Burgess visited the Kirkcaldy property to meet the owner of the three bedroom home and the family who are now renting it.

She said: “Empty homes are a wasted resource and a blight on local communities.

“At a time when affordable housing is in high demand bringing empty homes back into use is an innovative and cost-effective way to increase supply of housing to families in need.

“The Homes Again project and the wider Shelter Scotland-led Scottish Empty Homes Partnership is part of the Scottish Government’s efforts to deliver at least 30,000 affordable homes in Scotland over the lifetime of this parliament.

“This property is a good example of how a home can be brought back into use with some help and support for the owner.”