Buying unclaimed, abandoned and derelict properties in the UK
If you are the kind of person who is interested in renovating a derelict or empty cottage then something you should consider is the raft of unclaimed properties available in the UK. You may be surprised to learn there are more of these houses than you may think.
Unclaimed properties can range from country cottages and houses right through to derelict barns, water mills, windmills, churches and even abandoned agricultural buildings. However before you get too excited, its worth noting that claiming an abandoned property can be somewhat of a rigmarole and may involve many months, if not even years of paperwork.
The first step is to find the derelict house or building you are interested in claiming or renovating. The best way to do this is to narrow down the part of the country that sparks your interest. Try to be sensible about this, for example, London is likely to have a lot less unclaimed homes than say Wales or northern England. This is simply because property in London is at a premium and anything at all worth selling is usually sold quickly.
Once you have determined your preferred area your house hunting can begin in earnest. One of the best things to do is simply drive around the area over a period of one or two weeks, looking around and taking note of any abandoned buildings or old empty houses. Many people have turned a corner in the car on a little back road to find their future family home lookin right at them through overgrown bushes, nettles and a collapsed roof.
Assuming you have discovered a potential renovation project, the first thing to do is find out who, if anyone, owns it. If the property is located in the countryside then ask at nearby houses and even at the local post office for advice. be aware that although a house may look abandoned or derelict it doesn’t mean someone doesn’t own it. This is especially true for agricultural buildings, empty properties such as churches, watermills, barns etc. If the site in question is on a farm it is almost certainly owned by someone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a chat with the farmer – he may be interested in selling that abandoned cottage. Always ask permission before roaming around any empty property you may find.
The law varied depending on which part of the UK you are in. For example, the property laws in Scotland are completely different from those in England. Always check with your local authorities to make sure the unclaimed property you are interested in really is available. Your local council’s planning department will always be the best place to find initial direction, however do not tread on any landlord’s toes or farmer’s feet before you clinch the deal. Finding and renovating an unclaimed property can be very rewarding so be prepared for a long battle to gain ownership. Your claim may be disputed along the way so always make sure you have plenty of legal advice.