More homes

Empty homes

Empty homes

Long-term empty properties are a wasted resource at a time when Scotland needs more homes, and can be a blight on communities. Our focus is on bringing as many empty homes back into use as possible.

Scottish Empty Homes Partnership

Since 2010, we have funded Shelter Scotland to develop and deliver the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, which gives advice to home owners and works with councils to develop empty homes services to help bring private sector empty homes back into use.

Empty homes officers

Following the success of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, we have provided funding support, for an initial period of two years,  for a number of empty homes officers, who work strategically across specific council areas to tackle problematic empty homes. 

Shelter Scotland has a list of contact details for empty homes officers across Scotland.

If there is no empty homes officer currently operating in your area, contact the Empty Homes Advisory Service on 0344 515 1941 or at In the longer term, Ministers want to see empty homes officer support available across all of Scotland.

Council tax on second and long-term unoccupied homes

To encourage property owners to bring their properties back into use and discourage properties being left empty for long periods, the Local Government Finance (Unoccupied Properties etc.) (Scotland) Act 2012 and its subsequent regulations (The Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2023), allow councils to both remove the discount on certain types of unoccupied homes and increase the level of council tax payable on these properties. From April 2024, we have legislated to ensure new owners purchasing homes empty for longer than 12 months benefit from a grace period of six months without an additional council tax premium while they are undertaking repairs and renovations. This incentivises reoccupation and improvements, and councils have the discretion to extend this period based on individual circumstances.

Independent audit report

The Scottish Government, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, appointed Indigo House Group to undertake an independent audit of its long-term empty homes policy and interventions. The findings of this audit will help inform how commitments on empty homes within the Housing to 2040 Strategy can best be met. The Minister for Housing wrote to the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee on 19 September 2023 setting out the actions the Scottish Government will take against the report's recommendations.

Back to top