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Matchmaker service for empty homes
There are 23,000 private homes across Scotland that are classed as being long-term empty
A new matchmaking service aims to tackle Scotland's empty homes problem by introducing owners of vacant properties to would-be buyers.
The initiative, being launched by a consortium of councils, will link up buyers who are looking for an investment or renovation project with those who have a vacant property for sale.
There are 23,000 private homes across Scotland that are classed as being long-term empty, according to Shelter Scotland - the housing charity which runs the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership. But it is hoped the Homes Again Matchmaker service, being run by local authorities with the help of the partnership, will help bring these properties back into use.
A number of councils, including East Lothian, West Lothian, the Scottish Borders and Fife, are already involved in the project, which has the potential to be expanded across Scotland.
The Scottish Government funds the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership and housing minister Keith Brown has given his backing to the new matchmaking service.
He said: "The Scottish Government is committed to tackling empty homes. That is why we are funding the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership. I welcome this new initiative and hope it is successful in helping to bring more empty homes back into use."
It is hoped the matchmaker service will encourage the owners of vacant homes to contact council empty homes officers, who can then put them in touch with potential buyers. Local authorities will not be part of negotiations or legal processes associated with the purchasing of any homes.
Kirsten Hubert, Shelter Scotland's empty homes co-ordinator, described the initiative as a "great, low-cost way for councils to help potential buyers and sellers identify each other, and hopefully find solutions to Scotland's empty homes problem".
She added: "There are many reasons why a home might be left empty. Owners can have sentimental attachment to it or they don't have the finances, the time or the skills to complete their plans for the property, or they simply can't find a buyer through conventional routes.
"With 156,000 families and individuals on housing waiting lists, this service is an additional step in the right direction towards bringing Scotland's 23,000 empty homes back into use."
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