> A Guide to Finding Who Owns an Empty Property
Finding empty property is a good way to buy below
market value property. The property is often in poor
condition and ripe for development. The owners may
not be bothered with it, they may have forgotten about
it, died or moved abroad. They may sell to you at
a low cost as the least hassle way of disposing of
Q. How can I trace the owner of an empty home?
Get the Post Code for the target
property. If you do not have a post code log on
to http://www.streetmap.co.uk/ type in the name
of the nearest town or village to your target location.
Bring up a 1:25,000 OS map of the area. Use the
red triangle keys on the edge of the map to move
the map until the target location is visible on
the map. Click the mouse on the target location.
The yellow arrow should now point to your target
location. Go down to the bottom of the web page
and there is a blue banner. Click “here”
on the banner taking advantage of the opportunity
to convert the co-ordinates. A new page will come
up offering among other things the post code. Make
a note of the post code. You can also get this information
from the Royal Mail website.
Check to see if the Land Registry
has a record of the owner. Log on to http://www.landregisteronline.gov.uk/
Enter the post code of the property. A list of properties
that the Land Registry knows about will be presented.
If you are lucky your target will be among them.
You will need to buy a copy of the register (£3)
and it is also worth buying a copy of the plan (£3)
just to make sure the map covers the area of your
target property. If you cannot find the property
it is probably unregistered. Many properties are
unregistered and you will now need to do some detective
work to get the owners.
Phone up the Council Planning
Department for the area. If they have dealt with
planning or building regulations applications from
the owner (e.g. for permission to build an extension),
they may have a file. Check on the phone if they
have a file. If they have then you are in luck.
Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act
you are allowed to see this file. Book a time with
the planning department for you to visit and view
the file. The file will nearly always reveal the
owner, their address and other useful information.
If there is no file then it is back to the detective
Check the electoral roll at your
local library or town hall to see if anyone is registered
to vote at the property. This register is updated
Phone up the Council Empty homes
officer. Every council has one of these, usually
part of their Estates Department. This officer can
be asked by you to trace the owner. Unfortunately
unless you are lucky they will not tell you who
the owner is. They will however pass on a letter
to the owner on your behalf. The empty homes officer
has some powerful tools for tracing owners. The
council can also use their powers to apply for a
compulsory purchase order on the property or to
enforce the sale. They can also apply for an order
to force the owner to renovate a property. If they
do this at the same time as a letter from you arrives
you may get lucky and be able to buy the property
from them. If there is no luck with the council
then it is back to detective work.
Posting a notice on the door
of the empty property stating that you would like
to contact the owner.
Talk to neighbours and any neighbourhood
community groups as well as local shopkeepers -
they may well know something about the owner. This
method costs nothing and can often yield valuable
information about an empty property. It does however
reveal your interest. If the property is in a rural
area, you could contact the local parish council.
The Parish Clerk may be able to help.
could contact your local neighbourhood watch
group – they might know about the
status of the property. For details of your
nearest neighbourhood watch group, contact
your local police station.
Phone up the Utility companies, Gas, Electricity,
Phone, Cable, and Water and ask them if they
know who the owner is. They will usually not
tell you who it is but you should be able
to find out if they know a name and have an
I have a name and possibly an address, now what do
the owner via a search agency. Look in your local
Yellow Pages under “Detective Agencies”
or contact the Talking Pages. This is often the
easiest way to trace an owner’s whereabouts,
but you will have to pay a fee which can range from
about £20 to around £200. Search on
www.192.com a useful online facility for which you
buy credits to perform searches.
using online genealogists web sites with access
to wills and probate information. 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.
If you know the name of the former owner, you could
try using a firm of genealogists, who specialise
in family trees and tracing heirs to wills. Look
in the phone book or search the Internet for ‘genealogists’.
Fees charged by genealogists will vary.
Mobbs is the MD of Serendipity, which is a privately
owned property investment company specialising
in quick acquisition of properties throughout
the whole of the UK. They specialise in new builds,
rennovations, development, BMV property trading,
operates independently of estates agents and developers.
They purchase properties using prearranged financing
from financial institutions and private investors.
PROPERTY DEVELOPMENTS LTD
Gin Clough Farm
0800 195 6581 firstname.lastname@example.org