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26 Sept 2022

Ownerless property could be transferred to public control to help communities

Ownerless property could be transferred to public control to help communities

Land and properties without an owner could be transferred to public control to benefit local communities as part of an “ambitious” new scheme.

The proposal comes from the King’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (KLTR), who represents the Crown’s interests in Scotland.

At present when someone dies without a will and no known relatives, their estate is passed to the Crown.

But now KLTR David Harvie is consulting on plans which could see ownerless properties sold to key public sector bodies for a nominal sum, thereby allowing them to be put to use for the community.

This Ownerless Property Transfer Scheme (OPTS) could help vacant buildings and sites be transformed into assets for future generations, Mr Harvie said.

He described it as being “an ambitious scheme, a new approach and a new way of thinking” which he said could bring “real and tangible benefits”.

Mr Harvie said: “I recognise the long-term negative impact that ownerless land and buildings can have on our communities, our cities, our towns and villages and on the residents within these areas.

“The scheme will provide opportunities for communities throughout Scotland to benefit from converting ownerless property into owned property, both land and buildings in both urban and rural areas, by bringing them back into productive use.

“I therefore hope the OPTS will play a fundamental part in bringing interested parties together to agree on how ownerless property can be used in the best possible way and to the advantage of local people.”

Bobby Sandeman, KLTR’s head of department, said officials would work closely with the Scottish Government, local councils and others “to ensure the potential benefits of the scheme are recognised”.

He added: “This scheme will transform the way in which the KLTR deals with ownerless property and the way in which we deal with those who refer property to us.

“It will encourage, and require, collaborative working between public bodies and representative groups. Views expressed during the consultation will help to shape the new scheme and I look forward to receiving responses by December 16 2022.”

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