Two long-term empty properties at Portland Road in Kilmarnock are being given a new lease of life with help from East Ayrshire Council.
The Council’s Empty Homes Officer, Liz King, helped to facilitate the connection between different parties which resulted in one owner purchasing the neighbouring properties. This was ideal since there was shared communal work needed to both properties. Liz also worked with colleagues in Environmental Health to allow work to progress, and one property is now being advertised for sale while renovation work begins on the property next door.
The Council has been committed to empty homes work for a number of years and was at the forefront of the National Empty Homes Partnership which is celebrating its tenth year in existence. In 2012, the Council successfully applied to the Scottish Government to establish an Empty Homes Loan Fund and this was followed by the appointment of an Empty Homes Officer in 2016.
To date, 79 properties have been brought back into use through the assistance given to owners. These properties are now no longer attracting vandals and litter and being a blight on their communities but are instead serving as homes for people and contributing to the local economy and life in our communities.
Councillor Elena Whitham, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, said: “We believe that empty homes are a wasted resource and we are committed to helping owners overcome obstacles which prevent their property from being brought back into use.
“The transformation of the first property at Portland Road has to be seen to be believed and it will be fantastic to hopefully see it occupied soon. I also look forward to seeing the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of the second property once it is completed which I’m sure will be equally impressive.”
The owner of the Portland Road properties said; “When we bought the properties, it was really good to meet the Empty Homes Officer, Liz King, who was there for advice and assistance and was able to act as a liaison with other departments.
“At the start of the process it was quite daunting, as we had no idea of how the system worked, but Liz was able to facilitate any meeting or help us find any information we needed. It was reassuring to have the support throughout the process and as we move forward to the renovation of the property next door.”
The Private Sector Housing Unit has also established two other schemes, one of which is a grant fund to convert empty town centre commercial property in Kilmarnock into residential property. The other is the ‘missing share scheme’ which is available to property owners and landlords throughout East Ayrshire whose properties need communal repairs (such as roof or drainage) and where agreement on joint payment cannot be reached with all other owners in the building. This helps to prevent properties becoming empty by allowing essential repair work to be carried out.
If anyone would like advice or assistance with an empty home or with these schemes, please visit: https://eastayrshi.re/privatesectorhousing