MICT purchased a former Schoolhouse in Pennyghael in 2021 to ensure it remained as a long-term rental property in perpetuity, as part of an increasing portfolio of properties across the Isle of Mull.
Pennyghael Schoolhouse, in the South of Mull, was owned by the Brunton family for many years. Following the sad passing of Mamie Brunton, son Sandy and family decided to sell the property but did not want it becoming a second home or holiday let. As Convenor of Mull and Iona Community Trust, Sandy Brunton, was all to aware of the housing issues on the island, and the desperate shortage of affordable, secure rental homes. He therefore approached MICT to offer the organisation first refusal to purchase the property. MICT Directors agreed, and funding to purchase the house was immediately sought.
Thanks to grants from the Scottish Land Fund and Argyll & Bute Council, a mortgage from Ecology Building Society, and a discount from the Brunton family, Pennyghael Schoolhouse was purchased at the end of March 2021. Extensive renovations were subsequently carried out by local tradesmen, including a new air source heating system, to make the house more energy efficient.
An allocation policy, developed and agreed by members of the Pennyghael community, along with representatives of MICT, and South West Mull and Iona Development, was used to shortlist tenants, with priority given to families in housing need living on Mull.
Early in January 2022, the Bevington family moved in, having previously been in a long term let elsewhere on the island. New tenant Sian Bevington explained, ‘We are so happy and relieved to have been chosen to live in the Schoolhouse, we can’t wait to move in and get settled. We are so grateful to everyone involved in the process for choosing us.’
MICT General Manager commented, ‘We are grateful to Sandy and family for giving us the opportunity to ensure this property remains in the long-term rental market, and we are hopeful this will be just the first to help us reverse the trend of family homes being sold into the self-catering and second home sector. Everyone at MICT wishes the Bevingtons every happiness in their new home.’
Vendor Sandy Brunton was determined that his early family home would not become a second or holiday house and would encourage others to consider their options and to try to positively redress the serious imbalance in the current housing situation on the islands and beyond. He added, ‘Having grown up in Pennyghael Schoolhouse, it is very much part of my family background. It is lovely to see a family moving into this house, and playing a part in repopulating this part of South West Mull.’
This home brings MICT’s total housing portfolio to 7 properties, and it is hoped this is just the first community purchase of an existing house for the organisation. Other current housing delivery plans include working with the private sector and local businesses, investigating options for new croft creation, reinvigorating long-term empty properties, and applying Rural Housing Burdens to properties for sale, to ensure they remain permanent homes.
Increasing the Supply of Affordable Housing on Our Islands
We are keen to speak to local individuals, businesses and groups to work towards solutions to the housing issues we face here on Mull and Iona. Do you have an underused property that could be brought back to life and offered for rent? Are you considering selling a house, but want to ensure it remains as a permanently occupied home? Would your business be interested in investing in property for your staff? Do you have land that could be offered for crofting?
We would love to hear from anyone interested in supporting us to increase the number of homes available on our islands, working with our partners and funders to discuss potential solutions.
For all housing matters, please contact Helen MacDonald on 01680 812 912, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.