Claiming Abandoned Houses

Discover how to claim abandoned houses for free in the UK. Follow the legal process, restore the property, and acquire it without breaking the bank.

Claiming abandoned houses in UK

How to Claim Abandoned Houses for Free in the UK

Abandoned houses are properties left vacant and unoccupied for a long time. These houses can be found in almost every city in the UK. They are often left empty for various reasons, including financial difficulties, family disputes, or neglect.

Claiming an abandoned house allows individuals to become property owners without spending much money.

It’s important to note, however, that claiming an abandoned house is not as straightforward as it may seem.

This article will provide a comprehensive guide on how to claim abandoned houses for free in the UK.

We’ll cover everything from finding abandoned houses to renovating and reselling the property, and we’ll also provide answers to frequently asked questions on this topic.

Claiming abandoned houses in UK

Claiming an abandoned house can be daunting, but it’s a worthwhile venture. It provides an opportunity to own a property that would otherwise be unavailable.

However, it’s important to follow the legal process of claiming abandoned houses and to be aware of the potential challenges that come with it.

Identifying Abandoned Houses

When it comes to identifying abandoned houses, there are a few things you need to look out for.

In general, abandoned houses have a neglected appearance, with overgrown gardens and broken windows.

Here are some steps to follow when identifying abandoned houses:

Look for signs of neglect

Abandoned houses often show signs of neglect.

Overgrown gardens, boarded-up windows, and peeling paint indicate that a property may have been left unoccupied for a long time.

Check for post

If a property has been left unoccupied for a long time, there’s a good chance the owner won’t collect their post.

Check for a build-up of letters and parcels, which could indicate that a property may be abandoned.

Talk to the Neighbours

Neighbors are often the first to notice when a property has been left unoccupied for a long time.

If you suspect a property is abandoned, it’s a good idea to talk to the neighbors and ask them if they know anything about it. They may be able to tell you how long the property has been unoccupied and whether there have been any attempts to sell or rent it out.

Look up the property on the Land Registry

The Land Registry is a government agency that records ownership of land and property in England and Wales.

By searching the Land Registry, you can find out who owns a particular property and whether it is registered as abandoned.

If a property is not registered, it does not necessarily mean it is abandoned, but it is worth investigating further.

Check with the local council

The local council may have information on abandoned properties in the area. They may also tell you whether a property is registered as abandoned.

Following these steps, you should be able to identify abandoned houses in your area.

Once you have identified an abandoned property, the next step is to find out whether you can claim it for free.

vacant property UK

The Legal Process for Claiming Abandoned Houses in the UK

If you have identified an abandoned house you want to claim, the next step is understanding the legal process involved.

It’s important to note that the legal process can be complex and lengthy, so it’s recommended that you seek the advice of a legal professional before proceeding.

The Role of the Land Registry

The first step in claiming an abandoned house is to check if the property is registered with the Land Registry.

The Land Registry is a government department that maintains a land and property ownership register in England and Wales.

If the abandoned property is registered with the Land Registry, you can obtain the title information for the property from the Land Registry website. This information will include details of the current owner and any legal charges or mortgages on the property.

The Adverse Possession Law

If the abandoned property is not registered with the Land Registry, the legal process for claiming it differs. In this case, you may claim ownership of the property through the Adverse Possession law.

Adverse Possession is a legal principle that allows someone to claim ownership of land or property if they have been in possession of it for a certain period of time and if the owner has not taken any legal action to regain possession of it.

In the UK, the period of time required for Adverse Possession is 10-12 years.

Requirements for Claiming Ownership

You must meet certain requirements to claim ownership of an abandoned house through Adverse Possession. These include:

  • The property must be abandoned or unoccupied
  • You must have been in possession of the property for at least 10-12 years
  • You must have used the property as if you were the owner
  • You must have taken steps to maintain the property and prevent others from entering it

It’s important to note that Adverse Possession is a complex legal process, and there are a number of requirements that must be met in order to make a successful claim.

It’s recommended that you seek the advice of a legal professional before proceeding.

Abandoned detached house

The Legal Process

The legal process for claiming an abandoned house through Adverse Possession involves the following steps:

  1. Establishing possession: You must establish that you have been in possession of the property for at least 10-12 years and that the property has been abandoned or unoccupied during this time.
  2. Giving notice: You must give notice to the owner of the property, informing them of your intention to claim ownership through Adverse Possession. This notice should be in writing and sent by registered post.
  3. Waiting period: The property owner has a set period to respond to the notice. You can proceed with your claim if they do not respond within this time.
  4. Applying for registration: You can then apply to have the property registered in your name through Adverse Possession. This involves providing evidence that you have met all the requirements for claiming ownership.
  5. Registering the property: If your claim is successful, the property will be registered in your name.

In conclusion, claiming ownership of an abandoned house in the UK can be complex and lengthy. It’s important to seek the advice of a legal professional before proceeding with any claim.

Steps to Restoring Abandoned Houses

Restoring abandoned houses is a challenging yet rewarding process. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Secure the property

Before starting any work on an abandoned house, securing the property is essential to prevent further damage or theft. This involves boarding up broken windows or doors and installing a sturdy lock to keep unwanted visitors out.

2. Assess the damage

Once the property is secure, it’s time to assess the damage.

Take a thorough walk-through of the house and create a list of any repairs that need to be made. This could include fixing plumbing, electrical, and structural issues and cosmetic repairs like painting and decorating.

3. Develop a restoration plan

Based on the list of necessary repairs, develop a restoration plan. This should outline what needs to be done, how long it will take, and the estimated cost of materials and labour. It’s essential to prioritize critical repairs first, such as structural issues or safety hazards.

4. Obtain necessary permits and permissions

Before starting any major restoration work, obtaining any necessary permits and permissions from the local council is essential. This could include planning permission for any major changes to the property or building regulations approval for structural work.

5. Bring in professionals

While some restoration work can be done on a DIY basis, it’s always advisable to bring in professionals for more complex repairs. This could include electricians, plumbers, and builders, who can provide the necessary expertise and ensure that the work is done safely and to a high standard.

Costs Involved in Restoring Abandoned Houses

Restoring an abandoned house can be expensive, but there are ways to keep costs down. Here are some of the costs involved in restoring an abandoned house:

1. Initial assessment and surveying costs

Before any restoration work can begin, an initial assessment and survey of the property will need to be carried out. This will typically cost several hundred pounds.

2. Materials costs

The cost of materials for restoring an abandoned house can vary widely depending on the extent of the work required.

However, budgeting essentials like plumbing and electrical supplies, building materials, and paint and decorating supplies are important.

3. Labour costs

If you’re hiring professionals to carry out restoration work, labour costs will be a significant expense. Getting multiple quotes and comparing prices is important to ensure you get the best value for your money.

4. Permit and inspection fees

As mentioned earlier, obtaining necessary permits and inspections from the local council can be an additional cost.

5. Contingency fund

Finally, it’s essential to budget for unexpected expenses. Restoring an abandoned house can often uncover hidden problems that weren’t apparent during the initial assessment, so having a contingency fund can help cover any unexpected costs.

vacant detached house

Benefits of Restoring Abandoned Houses

Restoring an abandoned house can benefit the homeowner and the wider community.

Here are some of the benefits:

1. Affordable housing

One of the main benefits of restoring an abandoned house is the potential for affordable housing. Abandoned houses are often sold cheaply, and restoring them can be much more affordable than buying a new property.

2. Community revitalisation

Restoring an abandoned house can have a positive impact on the wider community. It can help to revitalise run-down areas and bring new life to neglected streets.

3. Historical preservation

Many abandoned houses have historical significance, and restoring them can help to preserve the local history and heritage.

4. Environmental benefits

Restoring an abandoned house can also have environmental benefits. Instead of building a new property, restoring an existing property can help to reduce the carbon footprint and conserve resources.

5. Increased property value

Restoring an abandoned house can increase the property’s value, which can be beneficial if you decide to sell.

6. Sense of accomplishment

Finally, restoring an abandoned house can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Knowing that you’ve transformed a neglected, abandoned property into a beautiful and functional home can give you a sense of accomplishment and pride in your work.

Overall, restoring an abandoned house can be a challenging but highly rewarding experience. It can provide affordable housing, revitalise communities, preserve history, and have positive environmental impacts while giving you a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions that people have regarding claiming abandoned houses for free in the UK:

What is the difference between abandoned and unoccupied houses?

An unoccupied house is not currently being lived in but is still maintained by the owner. An abandoned house is a property that has been vacated and left in a state of disrepair for an extended period.

To claim ownership of an abandoned house, you must prove that the property has been left unused and unoccupied for a certain period of time.

Can you claim ownership of an abandoned house if it’s not registered with the Land Registry?

Yes, you can still claim ownership of an abandoned house even if it’s not registered with the Land Registry.

However, the process may be more complicated as you must provide additional evidence to support your claim.

How long does the Adverse Possession process take?

The Adverse Possession process can take anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on the circumstances of the case.

It’s important to note that the process can be lengthy and complex, so seeking legal advice is recommended before proceeding.

What happens if the original owner returns?

If the original owner returns and disputes your claim, you may need to go through a legal process to resolve the matter.

It’s important to note that if the original owner can provide evidence of ownership and refute your claim, you may be unable to keep the property.

Are there any risks involved in claiming abandoned houses for free?

Yes, there are risks involved in claiming abandoned houses for free.

For example, if you claim property ownership without following the correct legal procedures, you may risk legal action from the original owner or local authorities.

Additionally, if you take ownership of a property in a state of disrepair, you may face significant costs in restoring it to a livable condition. Considering the risks and benefits before proceeding with any claim is important.


In conclusion, claiming abandoned houses for free in the UK can be a rewarding experience for those willing to follow the legal process and put in the time and effort.

It’s a great way to acquire property without spending much money and can contribute positively to the community by restoring abandoned properties.

Join the Conversation

We hope you found this article useful and informative!

At derelict property, we value your feedback and encourage you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

We would love to hear from you if you have additional ideas, suggestions, or personal stories related to the topic.

Your feedback helps us improve our content and provides a platform for our readers to share their perspectives and engage with one another.

3 thoughts on “Claiming Abandoned Houses”

  1. Hi. What to do if an abandoned house still in Land Register has two owners but both are passed away? Is there any chance to apply for it and possibly get it for free? Regards Victoria

    • Get yourself a cup of tea – this isn’t a short or easy answer…

      So, in the UK, we have this legal concept known as adverse possession, sometimes referred to as “squatter’s rights”. Now, it might sound strange, but this rule can actually allow someone who doesn’t officially own a piece of land to become the owner, if they’ve been living on or using the property like it’s theirs for a certain amount of time.

      Here’s how the process works:

      The first part of the puzzle is what’s called “factual possession”. This means the person needs to have had exclusive use of the property, behaving as if they own it. They might put up fences, maintain the place, and generally act as though they’re the property owner.

      Then, there’s the “intention to possess”. In other words, the person has been treating the property as their own, regardless of who the legal owner is.

      The third component is the time requirement. For unregistered land, the person needs to have been in continuous possession for 12 years. For registered land, it’s a bit less, just 10 years.

      But here’s the thing, you can’t just claim that you’ve been there for the required amount of time – you need evidence. That might include things like dated photos showing you on the property, receipts for materials or services you’ve used there, testimonies from neighbours, or even utility bills.

      If the land is registered, after those 10 years the person then applies to the Land Registry to be officially recognised as the new owner. The current owner and others get a chance to object, and if no successful objections are made, the person can become the new owner.

      But let’s say you’re in the midst of an adverse possession claim and the original owner pops back up before you’ve reached the 10 or 12-year mark. Unfortunately, any investments you’ve made in the property could be lost. The legitimate owner could ask you to leave and without completing the required period of possession, you wouldn’t have legal rights to the property.

      The whole adverse possession concept was initially designed to clear up land disputes where the original owner had disappeared or passed away, and wasn’t meant to promote squatting. And, with the Land Registration Act 2002, the process of claiming adverse possession has become more challenging.

      This is why, whether you’re thinking about making a claim, or you’re the owner who’s just found someone on your land, professional legal help is a must.

      These laws are complex and the stakes can be high. So please, don’t navigate this alone – get some expert advice!

      Good luck on your journey, and please let us know how things go!

      If anybody else reading this has any further suggestions or advice, please do jump in!


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