Buying an Empty Property

An empty property can provide an excellent opportunity to redevelop an existing property which can be either rented out or later sold at a profit.


Renovating an empty property also has a number of benefits:

  • More housing available for people on the council waiting list
  • Vandalism, crime and the fear of crime in the community will be reduced
  • A reduction in dangerous or unsightly property which present a risk to the community
  • Area will become more attractive increasing trade for local business and improving house values and sales

More often than not an empty property will require some work to bring it back into use. It is important that there are sufficient funds to cover such work before buying the property.


By purchasing an empty property, a property can be bought for a bargain. However, it may require determination and vision to take on a significant project.


How to identify an Empty Property

A long-term empty property is usually easy to identify as it may be neglected and in a state of disrepair. Some telltale signs may include:

  • Large amount of uncollected post building up inside the front door.
  • Garden not being maintained or is rubbish being dumped and not removed
  • Signs of disrepair and external damage that are not being dealt with, eg broken windows, damaged roof
  • The property been boarded up 
  • Lights left on or no one ever visit the property


You may also want to speak to the neighbours in the area, they may know more about the property and its owner and may remember how long the property has been empty.


Contact the local authority where the property is located to see if the property is listed on their records as a long-term empty.


Where there is a combination of these factors, the chances are that the property is a long-term empty. 


You can also contact try contacting your local estate agent to find out if they have details of any empty properties. They may not have pictures of these properties in their shop window so it is worth asking to see what is available. Auction catalogues are also a good place to find empty properties that are for sale. 

Tracing the owner of an Empty Property

Tracing an unknown/ absent owner is the first step towards bringing an empty property back into use.


There are a few steps to follow that may help you find the name and whereabouts of an owner:

  • Speak with people in the community, they may know something about the owner
  • Post a notice on the door of the empty property stating that you would like to contact the owner
  • Carryout a Land Registry search, this will contain information on all owners of registered land. This is a useful way to find the owner's name, but the address given is often the same as the empty property address. 


If the owner of the empty home has died and the will is disputed or the heirs do not come forward, the property can sit 'in limbo' while the identity of the new owner is being established and there will be a question mark over who is responsible for it.