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Home Resident Housing Empty Homes Buying an Empty Home

Buying an Empty Home


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Advice on buying an empty property
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If you are interested in buying an empty property and you are not sure who owns it, you can contact us. In some circumstances we can liaise between you and the owner in confidence. We cannot give you a list of empty properties or information about their owners.

How to identify an empty property

  • An on-foot survey - Look for properties that appear empty in the area you want. Please note, not all properties that look neglected are actually empty.
  • Estate agents and auction houses – Estate agents will be able to tell you which properties are empty. Auction websites have a list of properties to be auctioned and may note empty properties. Auctions are also used to sell properties which have been repossessed by lenders.
  • Websites – some websites advertise building land for sale, some of which include an empty property. Check the following websites

Public Request for Disposal (PROD)

This is a little known piece of legislation from the Local Government and Planning Land Act 1980. A Public Request for Disposal allows an individual to encourage a public landowner to take action over derelict publicly-owned land, and even compel it to be put up for sale.

Finding the owner

It can be difficult to establish who owns an empty property. Not all properties are registered with Land Registry or are liable for Council Tax. Here are some ways to identify the owner of an empty property:

  • Sometimes neighbours will know who owns the empty property. If you explain to them why you want to know they might help.
  • For a small fee, you can check the title register for any properties on the Land Registry. This notes useful information, such as ownership, restrictive covenants, and charges. The title register might include a current address for the owner.
  • If you know the name of the owner, you might be able to trace them through telephone directories, birth marriages and death records, or the Electoral Register.

You could also check the following websites:

Before buying any property, it is useful to consider the following:

  • How much the property is worth now?
  • How much would the property be worth if you renovated it?
  • How much would it cost to complete renovation work?
  • If you chose to rent it, how much rent would you receive?

If you want to rent out the empty property and have not been a landlord before, find more information on our Renting out an empty home page.

You could get advice from local estate agents and a surveyor about the property’s value now and once you have completed work.

Mortgages

It can be difficult to get a mortgage on a property which is in a poor condition. If you want to apply for a mortgage to buy and complete work to a property, you might be asking for more than the property is currently worth. From a lender’s point of view, this would be high risk because, if the mortgage or loan is not repaid, the property may not be worth enough to repay the outstanding debt.

The Empty Homes Agency lists these as some of the lenders who have mortgage products that might be suitable for buying an empty property:

  • The Ecology Building Society
  • Buildstore
  • The Co-operative Bank

For more information and advice on finding a lender, contact the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

VAT

In some cases, you might benefit from a reduced rate of VAT for the renovation of an empty property.

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