Scottish councils should be given controversial powers to force home owners to bring empty properties back into use, according to experts at Angus Council.
Councillors approved at a meeting on Tuesday a written submission to the Scottish Government calling for a wide range of housing measures including tough new powers on empty properties.
Housing bosses want powers currently available in England and Wales known as Empty Dwelling Management Orders (EDMO) to be introduced north of the border.
The orders were introduced by the previous Labour government at Westminster to make it easier for local councils to take possession of properties that had fallen into disuse.
Only a handful of English and Welsh councils have used the powers after they were criticised as being too complex.
The orders allow a council to take temporary ownership of an empty home while it works with the owner to make it habitable and bring it back into use.
John Morrow, housing service leader at Angus Council, proposed a nine-page response to the Scottish Government consultation.
In the section marked empty/ second homes, he wrote: “Further consideration of second home ownership and more expansive empty homes initiatives are required to maximise use of existing housing and to increase supply.”
He said this would have a positive impact on affordability and carbon reductions.
“Consideration could be given to implementing ‘Empty Dwelling Management Orders’ that are currently available in England and Wales, or creating a Scotland specific version, to take control of empty properties and bring them back into use.
“The vision and principles outlined by the Scottish Government demonstrate a move away from housing being retained as an asset, so further intervention to reduce the number of empty homes aligns with these principles.”
The Angus Local Housing Strategy (LHS) 2017 / 22 sets out the vision for housing in the county.
It said there was a requirement for an estimated 314 new homes per year in Angus from 2012 to 2032.
In recent years around 210 new market and affordable homes had been completed per annum, the paper said.
The private rented sector has increased by 50% since 2010 and plays an “increasingly important” role in providing accommodation for newly forming households, families with children and older people.
It then highlighted empty homes as an obstacle to improving supply.
“Empty homes represent a wasted resource with around 3% of private sector homes classified as long term empty.
“The council will continue to prioritise bringing empty homes back into use and further develop initiatives which address local issues.”