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Empty homes

An empty home is a privately owned property that has been unoccupied for 6 months or more. Long term empty properties can have a damaging effect on the local community and economy and are a wasted resource that could be used to help meet the need and demand for housing.

The Local Housing Strategy identifies bring empty properties back into use as another way to increase the supply of housing for locals individuals and families in South Lanarkshire. Empty homes cannot solve supply issues alone but can be a part of a holistic solution to provide local affordable housing and regenerate communities.

Council Tax

From 1 April 2019, a 100% increase in the council tax charge applies to properties that have been continuously unoccupied for more than 12 months or two years where the property is being actively marketed for sale or rent. Further information about how Council Tax is affected by a property being empty can be seen on our Council Tax - unoccupied properties page.

Support for empty home owners

It is recognised that properties can become long term empty due to a range of circumstances. We have a dedicated Officer whose focus is to provide advice and support for owners of empty properties. We can provide information about the range of options available for bringing a property back into use and also support owners in accessing discounts and grants to help with renovation costs.

There are a number of reasons for owners to bring their empty property back into use:

  • To reduce costs (Council Tax, insurance, and maintenance)
  • To generate regular income or capital sum if the property is sold
  • To reduce deterioration of the property and avoid any problems which may arise from this
  • To provide a home for someone

VAT reductions on renovations

Depending on how long your property has been registered empty, renovation or alteration works carried out by a VAT registered trader, may be eligible for a reduced VAT rate. A similar scheme is also available for properties that have been unoccupied for over 10 years. We can provide an owner with an evidence letter highlighting the last date of occupation. For more information, you can see the Government website for their guidance notes.

Discounted merchant rates

Through the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, practitioners have secured discounted rates for empty homeowners at a number of national builders merchants. These companies can supply products that should enable owners to address most repairs and improvements. If you are a local builder/supplier in the South Lanarkshire area and would like to participate in the scheme, or would like further information,  please email the Empty Homes Officer using the contact details shown.

Buy with confidence scheme

South Lanarkshire operates an approved trader scheme that aims to give consumers a reliable way of finding trustworthy local businesses. You can also browse the businesses signed up to the scheme.

Sales process

Citizens Advice Scotland provides a range of information and advice on how to sell your property including how to obtain a Home Report, Energy Performance Certificates, and the conveyancing process. It is always advisable to get more than one valuation so make sure you speak to a couple of estate agents. For further information see the Citizens Advice Website

In some cases selling an empty property through the usual process of an estate agent may not be appropriate due to the condition of the property. The Empty Homes Officer will be able to help you to look at other options such as property auction. 

Open market purchase scheme - empty properties

We have very limited resources to purchase private properties that are actively marketed for sale on the open market. The scheme is targeted to specific property types and locations to meet housing needs priorities in South Lanarkshire's Local Housing Strategy,

Properties that have been empty for a period exceeding 12 months as determined by Council Tax records may be considered for purchase under the scheme without being actively marketed for sale. Each property is judged on an individual case-by-case basis and owners will need to work with the Empty Homes Officer to consider all options for bringing the property back into use. For further information, please contact the Empty Homes Officer using the contact details shown.

If you are considering renting out your property, information and advice on being a landlord in Scotland can be found on the following links:

If you own an empty property and need advice on your options including, how to bring the property back into use, or wish to report an empty property, you can either email our Empty Homes Officer using the link in the contact details shown on this page or you can use our form to report it to us using the link below.

Please note, this form is to report long term empty properties only (unoccupied 6 months +) If you wish to apply for a Council Tax reduction for an unoccupied property, you should see our page for Council Tax reductions.

Make sure you give as much detail as possible in your email about the empty property or the type of information you are looking for and of course, your own contact details if you want us to contact you back.

Empty homes


Council offices, Floor 10, Almada Street, Hamilton, ML3 0AA
Email: Empty homes