Fund unlocks low-rent home

Renovated: The recently refurbished property had been standing empty for more than five years by the time renovation started.
Renovated: The recently refurbished property had been standing empty for more than five years by the time renovation started.

Angus Council has become the first Scottish local authority to transform an empty property into an affordable home using new government fund.

The former commercial property, which has stood empty in Montrose for more than five years, will now provide a quality one-bedroom home and will be let an affordable rent for five years.

Aimed at people on low incomes, including housing benefit recipients, its new tenants can take up residence safe in the knowledge that their rent will not increase significantly during that time.

Under the Scottish Government’s Empty Homes Loan Fund, the council received £120,000 to provide interest free loans for cash-strapped private owners to have renovation work carried out so empty properties can be brought back into use.

The Montrose project is the first of seven privately owned empty properties being refurbished in the county for use as affordable housing.

Councillor Donald Morrison, the council’s housing spokesman, said the scheme is “great news” for Angus residents.

He continued: “Not only will it help us increase the number of affordable homes for rent, it also contributes to the sustainability of our communities by making our streets more vibrant and attractive.

“We want to make best use of all our assets and we are working with the private sector to assess the suitability and cost-effectiveness of each proposed site.

“This is a great example of the council working successfully in partnership with the private sector and the government to achieve that objective.”

The council’s project has also been endorsed by housing minister Margaret Burgess.

She said: “Bringing empty properties back into use is a cost-effective way to increase supply of much-needed affordable housing to families across Scotland. The fund and the wider work being taken forward by councils will significantly reduce the number of wasted, empty properties across Scotland.”