Housing in Glasgow: Council to push for powers on compulsory sales of empty properties

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Giving councils the power to force the sale of neglected properties could bring hundreds of empty Glasgow homes back into use, it has been claimed.

Glasgow City Council will push the Scottish Government to bring in new legislation, as records showed 2,641 homes in the city had been empty for more than six months by the end of February.

Officials have estimated introducing compulsory sales orders (CSOs) could “be the solution for up to 50 per cent of the long-term empty homes in Glasgow.”

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CSOs could mean owners are forced to sell if they don’t invest or repair their properties.The city’s Labour group deputy leader, Councillor Soryia Siddique, said CSOs have been “talked about for far too long” and the delay is “inexcusable.”

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Picture: Adobe

Glasgow’s housing committee has agreed that Councillor Angus Millar, convener for city centre recovery, should write to the government to make the case for CSOs again.

Cllr Siddique said the council needs to insist the government acts “by the end of this calendar year.”

She added: “Glasgow can’t wait. It’s really holding back that 50 per cent of long-term empty homes coming back into use. That’s vulnerable children and families that could be in homes.”

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The city declared a housing emergency in November, with unprecedented pressure on homeless services and a shortage of social housing. At the end of February, council tax records showed 2,641 non-exempt homes had been empty for more than six months and 1,652 had been vacant for over 12 months.

Cllr Millar said the SNP administration has “in writing and in face to face meetings with various ministers” raised CSOs on “a number of occasions.”

He added: “We have repeatedly been making the case very publicly that we want to see these powers being progressed.”

“We cannot compel the Scottish Government to take a particular course of action but we have been very clear in what our position is.”

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A report by officials said the Scottish Government has advised CSOs are “still under consideration” but “no timescales have been provided”. They believe if CSOs are “introduced and give local authorities the necessary powers then this could be the solution for up to 50 per cent of the long-term empty homes in Glasgow.”

Glasgow City Council has brought over 1,700 empty homes back into use since 2019. It has completed 34 compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) while another 31 are ongoing, although officials said it can be a lengthy process.

CPOs have allowed the council, alongside housing associations, to buy empty properties.

Cllr Siddique welcomed the progress on empty homes but added: “If the housing emergency in Glasgow announcement is to be any more than empty rhetoric, the council must now publicly insist that the Scottish Government act on CSOs before the end of this calendar year.”

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An official told councillors: “If we get the additional powers like CSOs, that would help involve the market more, if we were able to sell properties at auction and bring other individuals in there.”

He added: “We see the merit in bringing forward compulsory sales orders but we realise pressures, there’s various other things for governments to decide on. We will continue to engage positively with the Scottish Government to encourage this to be brought forward.”

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