Local authorities can buy back their old stock when it comes on the market but until now Fife Council had imposed a limit of acquiring just 50 a year, rising to 100 during the Covid pandemic
However, councillors have now agreed to scrap the cap on numbers and buy back as many former council houses as it can for the £13.5M set aside, with the Scottish Government providing a subsidy of £40,000 per house.
More than 900 families, including 400 children, are living in temporary accommodation in Fife and the waiting list for houses is sitting at an all time high.
Head of housing John Mills said: “It’s essential to maximise housing opportunities for homeless people and people who are vulnerable. Increasing our housing acquisition is one element of that approach.”
Mr Mills said failure to invest in more properties would result in housing lists continuing to rise until 2025 and added: “Demand for homeless accommodation has increased dramatically and the number of households occupying temporary accommodation has grown significantly since 2020. This is in addition to an increasing number of Fife Housing Register applicants.”
The SNP previously has previously criticised Fife Council for not doing enough to help people in temporary accommodation. And called on officers in May to increase the number of buy-backs to address the problem.
SNP housing spokesperson Lesley Backhouse said: “We welcome the fact the council administration appears to be finally waking up to the housing crisis we are facing in Fife. But it is not good enough that it will have taken 112 days from the election to the council’s first real action.
However, Labour’s housing spokeswoman, Judy Hamilton, said everything possible was being done and that the council had bought 57 homes so far this financial year and added: “We’ll continue to buy housing stock in these difficult times.”
According to Rightmove, the most expensive area within Fife was Elie, just ahead of St Andrews , and the cheapest was Methil.. 3/4 bedroom ex-council houses in St Andrews sold for an average of £287, 500 this year but in West Fife prices were a third to a half of that. It follows that the number of houses Fife Council will be able to buy back will depend on their location.
For a full list of house prices in Fife go to: https://www.rightmove.co.uk/house-prices-in-Fife.html