Council chiefs have launched a new scheme to tackle high numbers of empty homes.
The new service comes in response to the Scottish Government’s most recent figures, which show the number of properties classed as “long-term empty” rose by 14% to 2,989 in 2017-18.
The figure is the second-highest of any local authority area in Scotland.
In a bid to tackle the issue, Aberdeen City Council has launched its own empty homes service, offering support and advice to owners.
Councillor Sandra Macdonald, the local authority’s housing spokeswoman, said: “This is one of several initiatives we have to help boost the supply of housing for those seeking to buy or rent and will help improve the affordability of the entire housing market through increased supply.
“We are building 2,000 new council homes across the city and we are working closely with partners such as housing associations to increase the supply of affordable homes.
“As a council, we have also innovated to improve processes for re-letting vacant council houses.
“With a continued high demand for affordable homes, it makes sense for us to intervene to offer advice and support to help bring as many of these empty properties back into use as quickly as possible.”
The service is being partially funded by the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP), run by the housing charity Shelter Scotland.
It will employ one full-time empty homes officer to track down owners and encourage them to take steps to rectify issues, with the aim of being able to return properties to housing stock.
During a two-year pilot, support and advice will be available to owners and neighbours who may be concerned about a property.
The service will focus on properties empty for 12 months or longer.
Shaheena Din, the SEHP’s national manager, said: “We are delighted to welcome Aberdeen into the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership.
“We support a network of specialist empty homes officers working across Scotland, and while there will be issues particular to Aberdeen’s local housing market, there will be opportunities to introduce solutions that have worked elsewhere.
“We know that having a specialist member of staff dedicated to supporting owners, neighbours and community groups in tackling empty homes is the most effective way forward.”