Island homes are laying empty

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Eilean Siar has the second largest proportion of unoccupied household spaces in Scotland according to the latest census figures.

The newly released 2011 results show nine per cent of all household spaces in the Western Isles are vacant, around 1,000 homes. This was second only to Argyll and Bute which saw 13% of houses laying unused.

The figures are based on properties for which no census questionnaire was returned. In total in Scotland it is estimated that there were 101,000 unoccupied household spaces in 2011, four per cent of the total of 2.5 million homes.

Action has already been taken by the Comhairle in an attempt to tackle the problem including increasing Council Tax on long term empty homes by 100%. The council has also applied for Scottish Government Funding to set up an Empty Homes Load Fund to encourage owners to bring property back into use.

A Comhairle spokesperson explained: “An interest free loan is provided to enable improvement works on a property to bring it back up to a lettable standard. The property has then to be rented out at an affordable rent for a five year period. We’ve had a few expressions of interest about this Scheme.”