North-east council taking longer to re-let its vacant homes, says report

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There has been a sharp rise in the amount of time it takes a local authority to re-let council housing, new figures show.

Aberdeenshire Council said that, as of June 2016, its staff took an average of 34 days to bring new tenants into a council property once the old ones had moved out – and that figure had jumped to 47 days by June 2017.

Council chiefs have defended the figures, saying they are distorted by the inclusion of low-demand homes, because these stayed empty for longer than other properties.

A report details the statistics and shows a wide range during the re-letting period in different areas of Aberdeenshire.

In Garioch, the average re-let time in June 2017 was 40 days compared with 45 days in Formartine, 48 days in Banff and Buchan; 51 days in Kincardine and Mearns and 59 days in Buchan.

But, the figure falls in all but one area – Kincardine and Mearns – when low-demand properties are removed from the figures.

The council’s housing chief Rob Simpson said: “The report shows the average number of days taken to re-let properties has increased on the last quarter, however, a number of factors have contributed this.

“Our housing improvement programme has started and consists of upgrades being undertaken by four contractors across all of Aberdeenshire.

“This includes substantial works in order to meet the Scottish Government’s energy efficiency standard for social housing, together with general stock improvements. “Works are being completed, where possible, when a property becomes empty.

“We are seeking to minimise all disruption and impacts on re-let times.

“Of course, low-demand properties can have an impact on our figures, however, these properties are only recorded when they are successfully re-let, and our teams work proactively to have these homes tenanted as soon as possible.” The report goes to the Kincardine and Mearns area committee on Tuesday.