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Council / Fetlar council houses empty for over five years

SOME council houses in Fetlar have now been vacant for over five years as properties on the outlying island suffer from low demand.

As of 4 August two houses in Fetlar had been empty for 1,918 and 1,904 days respectively.

A one-bedroom council house in Skerries, meanwhile, has been vacant for nearly four years.

The figures form part of a freedom of information request to Shetland Islands Council (SIC) on how long its vacant accommodation has been without occupants.

The figures are not unexpected, with the outlying islands always experiencing less demand than the mainland, but they shine a light on the extent to which some properties can lay empty.

A total of six council houses in Fetlar remained empty as of 4 August, with the most recently vacated property empty for a year.

The properties would have a weekly rent of £66.74.

There is also a two-bedroom property vacant in Unst as a result of low demand.

The figures also show a number of long-vacant houses empty due to “extensive works”, such as one in Scalloway which has been unoccupied for around three years.

Three houses in Mossbank and a couple in nearby Firth have also been vacant for some time for the same reason.

As of 4 August there were over 50 properties across Shetland in the process of being let.

The council noted, however, that during lockdown there were restrictions on the ability of contractors to enter properties to carry out works.

There were also restrictions on allocating properties.

“While some loosening of those restrictions have happened more recently, there is a backlog of works and this information needs to be considered in light of that context as a snapshot at a particular time,” the SIC said.

Housing executive manager Anita Jamieson.
Housing executive manager Anita Jamieson.

As of 4 August there were 656 applications on the housing register.

Shetland Islands Council’s housing manager Anita Jamieson said the local authority closely monitors the number of vacant properties in its housing stock and “takes steps to encourage applications for low demand properties”.

“There are often particular circumstance in communities that cause fluctuations in demand,” she said.

“We are dealing with relatively small numbers of both supply and demand in the smaller island areas.

“We also work in partnership with others and would particularly highlight the work being carried out through the Community Planning Partnership on Islands with Small Populations which helps to bring a wider understanding of the communities and their needs.”