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Meet Renfrewshire Council’s More Homes Officer Allana Mcluskey

This year the network of Empty Homes Officers (EHOs) that SEHP supports reported 1257 homes back into use. This reflects their hard work and determination in working with owners and investigating empty properties to see them transformed into homes again.

Recently we sat down with Renfrewshire Council’s More Homes Officer Allana Mcluskey to find out more about her work.

Who do you work for and what is your role?

I work for Renfrewshire Council as a More Homes Officer. We used to be called Empty Homes Officers but that changed in my area.

 How long have you been in your role? 

It is just coming up to nine months now. I am enjoying it, it’s totally different from before.

What was it that you were doing before?

 I worked for Arnold Clark for 20 years.

How long has Renfrewshire had an empty homes service?

 It was set up in 2012 or 2013. So, 10 years roughly.

Why did you want to pursue a career in empty homes work?

 I didn’t realise how big a challenge empty homes presented until I saw the job advertised. Once I looked through the job description, I thought  that the role would suit me. I’m a pretty patient person and I’ve got lots of perseverance, something you need in this job. I was also attracted to it by the possible satisfaction of getting a home back into use. I thought that it would feel pretty great.

What has been your most memorable case? 

 I’ve had a few really interesting and memorable cases. In particular, I had one owner who had his property on the market for ages. He kept putting it back on but just couldn’t get a buyer. Then, when he eventually got a buyer, the sale fell through. He reduced the price – still no luck.

I was able to put him in touch with a property developer through our matchmaker service who was looking to buy it as a private sale. It was sold straight away and the new buyers moved in. I was proud to be able to provide the advice and help that I was able to.

What do you enjoy most about empty homes work? 

 I like that it’s different every day. One day I’m dealing with a massive house that needs a lot done to it and the next I’m working with a property in a busy street that’s lay empty for years.

How has the Scottish Government’s Housing to 2040 strategy impacted your work?

It has really helped bring empty homes work to the forefront, which is great for those of us in my line of work.  It’s also helped people realise they’ve got loads of options when dealing with an empty home and has generally increased awareness of empty homes as an issue.

How valuable is gathering and using evidence in your empty homes work?

 It’s really valuable, especially when dealing with individual properties. I can look at a property and use what we did with another, similar, one to make progress.

What has been your experience of the SEHP advice service?

 It’s been great. I deal with SEHP on a weekly basis, they forward on matchmakers and people who want to sign up, and that’s really useful. The advice service is great and the team behind it really know what they’re doing and are incredibly helpful.

The training I’ve had from SEHP has also been really good and they’ve helped me get in touch with Empty Homes Officers in Aberdeen, Fife, Glasgow, Inverclyde, and all over Scotland which has been very beneficial for me.

What would you say to an owner of an empty home who isn’t sure about asking for help?

 Don’t be afraid to ask. You’re not committing to anything just by asking for help or asking for advice. It’s free and it’s there to assist you.

How can members of the public seek assistance if they know of an empty home in their area? 

 I’d say contact the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership or get in touch with your local authority through their website. Someone will be able to help you.

What ‘big picture’ ideas or innovations do you think could help tackle empty homes in Scotland? 

 I think all Empty Homes Officers across Scotland will agree that we need more enforcement powers. Whether that is compulsory sale orders or compulsory rental orders, we need more enforcement.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

 I like to spend time with my friends, go to the gym, and I really like going on holiday. I’m off to Ibiza next week and the countdown is on!

What would you tell someone who was interested in becoming involved in empty homes work?  

I’d say that you need to have patience. It’s a great job and I love doing it, but it can sometimes be frustrating when dealing with people.  If you’re patient and can not take things personally, you’ll do great. 

We are grateful to Allana for taking the time to share an insight into her role. If finding out more about an EHO’s work has sparked your interest we have a list of EHOs by local authority who can help with empty homes issues.