Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has said it is time to clamp down on absent landlords, following the closure of English Street in Dumfries caused by a dangerous building.


The road was closed on Friday night due to the state of one of the buildings on the street, and remained closed for a number of days, with traffic being forced to divert.


Colin Smyth said: “It is time for a zero tolerance approach to absent landlords. It’s all very well for people to say the owner has plans for a building, but after eight years of inaction and utter neglect, no one believes them.


“There are examples of such dangerous buildings in just about every town in our region, clearly, absent owners have no interest in the streets or towns their buildings are located so they don’t bother to maintain them to an appropriate level.


Councils are understandably reluctant to take action except in emergencies because under the current inadequate Scottish Government laws, councils have to pick up the bill and are then forced to go through the courts to try to recoup the costs from the landlord. It can take a huge amount of time and taxpayers money, and often in the end the council get left with the building which is worthless.


The Scottish Government need to get a grip, give councils the proper powers and funding that allow them to seize the assets of absent owners to pay for the upkeep of buildings and change the business rates system so that owners who let their buildings fall into a state of disrepair are hammered for higher business rates. If we don’t, the situation we have seen in English Street will happen time and time again.”

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