Empty Homes in Scotland


About the Inquiry


National Records of Scotland data shows that of the 2.60 million dwellings in Scotland in 2017, 105,000 (4%) were unoccupied. These unoccupied dwellings include second homes (25,700, 1% of all dwellings) and vacant properties (79,200, 3% of all dwellings). Vacant properties include new homes which are yet to be occupied, and dwellings which are empty and awaiting demolition, amongst others.

There are many reasons why a property can be empty, such as periods when the owner may be in hospital or prison, issues relating to bereavement, inoccupancy due to long-term renovations, or difficulties in selling a home when an owner has moved. Whilst the reasons are many, there is no doubt that long-term empty homes can impact on available housing supply and the local community.

The Committee therefore agreed to undertake a short focussed inquiry into empty homes in Scotland. The remit of the inquiry was as follows:

  • The extent of, and reasons for, empty homes in Scotland;
  • How effective existing legislation and policy is at addressing the problem of empty homes;
  • What more can be done to prevent homes remaining empty and to encourage owners to bring them back into use.

The Committee did not look at second homes as part of its inquiry, as these are seen to raise policy and public interest considerations that are distinct from empty homes.

Read a briefing paper prepared by SPICe on empty homes in Scotland:


Call for Views

The Committee launched a call for written views from all interested parties between 5 April 2019 and 17 May 2019. Organisations and individuals were invited to submit written evidence to the Committee setting out their views on empty homes in Scotland. For further details on the Committee's call for written evidence and to read the submissions received, please see the links below:

Read the call for evidence.

Read the news release on the call for evidence.

Read the written submissions received.

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has produced a summary of the written evidence received:

Oral Evidence

Wednesday 15 May 2019

The Committee took evidence from:

  • Shaheena Din, National Manager, Scottish Empty Homes Partnership;
  • Derek Logie, Chief Executive, Rural Housing Scotland.

Papers for meeting on 15 May 2019 (246KB pdf)
Official Report of meeting on 15 May 2019

Following the meeting on 15 May 2019, the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership agreed to provide the following additional written evidence:

Wednesday 5 June 2019

The Committee took evidence from:

  • Sarah-Jane Laing, Executive Director, Scottish Land and Estates;
  • Andrew Mitchell, Regulatory Services Manager, Housing and Regulatory Services, City of Edinburgh Council;
  • Joan MacLellan, Senior Strategy Officer, Corporate and Housing Services, Falkirk Council;
  • Maureen Flynn, Strategy & Policy Advisor, Housing & Technical Resources, South Lanarkshire Council;
  • Isobel Butt, Vacant Property Development Officer, Perth and Kinross Council.

Papers for meeting on 5 June 2019 (406KB pdf)
Official Report of meeting on 5 June 2019

Following the meeting on 5 June 2019, Perth and Kinross Council agreed to share with the Committee a copy of a report on discretion when applying the Council Tax levy on empty homes:

Following the meeting on 5 June 2019, the Committee agreed to write to the Scottish Government in relation to compulsory purchase orders and compulsory sales orders:

Wednesday 4 September 2019

The committee took evidence from Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning.

Papers for meeting on 4 September 2019 (357KB pdf)
Official Report of meeting on 4 September 2019

Following the meeting on 4 September 2019, the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning wrote to the Committee, to COSLA and to all local authorities:

Visits and Events

Informal Session on Empty Homes in Scotland: 22 May 2019

On 22 May 2019, the Committee held an informal session with people who have had lived experience of empty homes. A summary note of the discussion can be found below:

Summary Note of Informal Session on Empty Homes in Scotland (68KB pdf)

Visit to East Ayrshire: 24 June 2019

Members of the Committee visited East Ayrshire on Monday 24 June 2019 to discuss the issue of empty homes with representatives of the community. A summary note of the discussion can be found below:

Summary Note of Visit to East Ayrshire (606KB pdf)


South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) to the Local Government and Communities Committee (LGC) reagrding the appointment of an Empty Homes Officer 



Read the report on Empty Homes in Scotland

The Scottish Government responded to the Committee's Empty Homes in Scotland report on 17 December 2019:


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