A major push to breathe new life into Perth’s night-time economy could be undone by its staggering number of vacant residential properties.
Returning renters to the heart of the city is seen as the key to boosting businesses and the local economy.
It is believed restaurants, pubs and clubs would all benefit from an influx of residents to fill the hundreds of empty flats above retail units.
New figures have, however, revealed that despite the efforts of an award-winning project designed to bring vacant properties back into use, the city is still struggling.
Perth and Kinross Council’s Empty Homes Initiative has gained nationwide recognition but during its two years in existence has succeeded in bringing little more than 30 of 900 properties back into use.
A city property expert said he feared many had already been empty for too long to be brought back on to the rental market.
Harry Coates, director with Belvoir, warned the deteriorating condition of many despite being outwardly impressive was being made worse by the water leaks and vermin.
In addition, he said tough new landlord legislation would make it ever more expensive to rejuvenate the flats, while security concerns may prevent many owners specifically High Street retailers from bringing them back to market.
“There is a shortage of rental properties available within Perth and elsewhere in Perth and Kinross,” Mr Coates said.
“The market is growing and growth is only going to continue but properties have to reach a certain standard and the legislation is very strict.
“Older properties are unlikely to meet the new energy performance legislation which will come into force in 2016 and meeting these standards may cost more money than many owners are willing or able to spend.”