Councillors on the Western Isles have backed proposals to introduce a dedicated officer to bring hundreds of empty homes back into use.
The Community and Housing Committee of Western Isles Council recommended the local authority accept an offer of part-funding for the post.
The funding for two years comes from the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership (SEHP) with the remaining cost to be covered by income from council tax on second homes.
Official figures show there are 522 long-term empty properties in private ownership on the Outer Hebrides and of those 231 have been vacant for 12 months or more.
That equates to 3.5% of the local housing stock which is more than twice the national rate of empty properties.
Some areas are more affected than others as Stornoway has 4% of homes lying empty but in the more rural areas that figure rises to 8%.
Shaheena Din, National Manager of the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership, said: “I’m delighted we are close to working with the Comhairle (Council) on an empty homes project for the islands.
“From our experience across Scotland we have found that having a dedicated member of staff makes the difference when it comes to engaging with the owners of empty homes and helping them make a plan to get property back into use.”
Councillor Kenny John Macleod, Chair of the Communities and Housing Committee, said: “Bringing empty properties back into use can be of much benefit for communities and contribute to Comhairle and Community Planning aspirations in terms of population retention and economic development.
He added: “I am delighted that we are now moving forward to address this issue and we look forward to working with our partners in SEHP.”
The SEHP is funded by the Scottish Government and hosted by housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland.
Since it was established in 2010 it has helped to bring 2,800 homes back into use by supporting empty homes officers in most local authorities across the country.