Glasgow City Council having to track down people abroad over empty properties

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A number of properties in the city are empty

Glasgow council officials are having to search abroad to track down empty home owners to make properties available for residents to live in.

People not being able to pay their mortgages, residents passing away and untraceable owners are among the issues leading to empty properties in Glasgow. Between April 2019 and March 2022 the council has managed to bring 677 homes back into use again for residents. It employs three empty homes officers to tackle the blight of derelict buildings going to waste.

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A council official said there have been cases “where properties have been abandoned for years and our team are tracking down people abroad and we are getting success stories from that.” He said the team are finding “family members and engaging with them and getting properties on to the market.” He told yesterday’s economy, housing, transport and regeneration city policy committee: “We will leave no stone unturned to track down these missing people and will do everything within our powers to do so.”

Council leader Susan Aitken, SNP, said bringing 677 properties back into use is a “phenomenal result” taken into consideration the pandemic. A council paper on its empty homes strategy presented to committee said 40 compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) have been progressed or confirmed to help make vacant properties available for people to live in again since 2019. The meeting heard it is taking 56 weeks to deliver CPOs.

Councillor Soryia Siddique, Labour, said 56 weeks for compulsory purchase orders is “quite concerning.” She asked what the obstacles are in reducing the delay and whether the Scottish Government can do anything. A council official said 56 weeks is not “acceptable” but objections slow down the process by up to six months. He said the council has been looking at ways to shorten the process by three or four weeks and there have been occasions when it has taken 40 weeks. He the council team are striving to getting it to six months and there has been a commitment from the Scottish Government to help shorten the time.

The committee heard the council is pushing for the introduction of compulsory sales orders, which would see local authorities having the power to make abandoned buildings or land available for purchase to the highest bidder. The roll out of compulsory sales orders depends on legislation being brought in by the Scottish Government. Committee chair Scottish Greens councillor Martha Wardrop asked for information on compulsory sales order to be provided to councillors. Actions on the empty homes strategy are to be incorporated into the local housing strategy.

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