Abandoned Houses For Sale: Should You Buy An Abandoned Property?

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Photo of an abandoned house for sale in the UK.
Finding abandoned houses for sale can seem exciting, but you need to delve deeper before buying. Photo © Bill Kasman (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Can You Claim Abandoned Houses For Free In The UK?

You cannot claim abandoned houses for free in the UK simply by occupying them. While the UK has laws concerning “adverse possession,” this is a complex legal process that requires a minimum of 10 to 12 years of occupation and various other conditions to be met. Even then, the original owner retains the right to reclaim the property.

Photo of one of the many abandoned houses for sale in the UK.
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot simply claim abandoned houses for free in the UK by occupying them. Photo © jamesnicoll (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Read our dedicated article about adverse possession in the UK and claiming abandoned houses in the UK.

Should You Buy An Abandoned House For Sale?

Are you thinking about buying an abandoned house or derelict property for sale in the UK? There are a lot of things to consider before making this type of commitment.

While purchasing an abandoned house can be a great way to get a good deal on a property, it is important to understand the risks and challenges that come with buying a property that has been left vacant for a long time.

Buying An Abandoned House

Buying an neglected old house can be an attractive opportunity for a variety of reasons. One main reason is the potential for a lower purchase price compared to other properties on the market.

Abandoned houses are often sold below market value, making them an appealing option for those looking for a bargain.

Additionally, purchasing an abandoned house can provide the opportunity to create a unique living space or an unusual property. Buyers can take advantage of the property’s potential and make it their own by customising the interior and exterior to their liking.

Photo of an abandoned house for sale in Scotland.
An abandoned house can quickly become a money pit if you do not take the time to investigate the derelict property before you purchase. Photo © Alan O’Dowd (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Renovating An Abandoned House

Renovating an abandoned or derelict house can also be a rewarding project, allowing buyers to take an old, run-down property and transform it into a beautiful and modern living space.

Buying an abandoned or derelict house can be a smart financial decision, as the value of the property can increase over time with strategic renovations and improvements.

Purchasing an abandoned property for sale in the UK can be a great option for those looking for a unique investment opportunity and a chance to create a personalised living space.

However, it of critical importance that you plan things through carefully and not leap into a purchase of a neglected or derelict property without thinking things through.

Photo of an abandoned house for sale with a slate roof.
Some abandoned houses have a lot of potential and can easily become beautiful homes when renovated. Photo © Trevor Littlewood (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Abandoned Houses In The UK Can Be Listed Buildings

When considering abandoned houses for sale in the UK a range of challenges and potential pitfalls can arise. The allure of restoring a neglected property is undeniable, but it’s crucial to be aware of the responsibilities and restrictions that come with it.

One issue that crops up regularly in Britain with abandoned houses for sale is the issue of listed status. Many buildings in the UK have protected listed status, and these are not necessarily stately homes or fancy buildings.

Buyers have been caught out on numerous occasions when bidding on conventional buildings such as cottages for sale in Scotland or even standard countryside properties around the UK. The listing status is usually revealed once a property survey has been completed.

A listed building in the UK is designated as being of particular architectural or historical significance. This classification provides the property with a protective status, safeguarding it from certain changes.

Any plans to renovate, extend, or even conduct minor repairs on a listed building require Listed Building Consent from the local planning authority.

These strict regulations ensure the building’s character remains intact. Thus, if you’re eyeing an abandoned house for sale that happens to be listed, it’s essential to be prepared.

Photo of an abandoned house for sale which may be a listed building
Be careful when making quick decisions when it comes to buying abandoned houses for sale, some may be listed buildings. Photo © Colin Kinnear (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Buying Abandoned Property For Profit

Buying an abandoned or run-down house can be a profitable venture if done correctly. The key to making money is buying the property at a low price and making smart renovation decisions.

By updating the property to modern standards and increasing its visual appeal, the value of the property can increase significantly.

Renovating an abandoned house for sale can also provide the opportunity to add unique design features, which can make the property more desirable to potential buyers.

Once the renovation is complete, the property can be sold for a profit or rented out for a steady stream of income. With careful planning, renovating an dilapidated run-down house can be a lucrative opportunity.

Photo of an abandoned house for sale with a couple viewing the property.
Many people dream of finding an abandoned house suitable for renovation. Image for illustration purposes.

5 Intriguing Facts About UK Abandoned Properties

Legally Protected Ruins: Some abandoned houses in the UK have been designated as listed buildings or historical landmarks, making it illegal to alter or demolish them without special permission. This presents a unique dilemma for developers who may acquire these properties, as they can be both costly to maintain and difficult to renovate.

Squatter’s Rights: While many people might assume that derelict or empty houses are free for the taking, UK law has specific stipulations about adverse possession. Squatters, after residing in a property for a particular length of time, can legally claim ownership. However, this process can be complicated and contentious, involving a wide array of legal criteria.

Wartime Relics: A number of empty buildings in the UK were vacated as a direct result of wartime circumstances. These houses often have remnants or artefacts that serve as historical evidence of wartime activities. For instance, you may find unused bomb shelters or features that speak to a different architectural era influenced by wartime constraints.

Natural Reclamation: In more rural areas, abandoned homes can become enveloped by nature over time, with local flora and fauna reclaiming the land. This creates unique ecosystems and can pose challenges for surveyors and developers who may not expect to deal with wildlife conservation issues when considering redevelopment.

Treasure Troves of Antiquities: Many abandoned properties, particularly those that have not been touched for decades, can contain valuable antiques, vintage items, or even historical documents. However, ownership and the rights to these items can be a legal grey area, especially when it’s unclear who the lawful heirs or property owners are.

How Much Are Abandoned Houses For Sale In The UK?

Abandoned, neglected and derelict houses can sell for wildly different prices depending on your part of the UK and the property itself.

While there is no hard and fast rule, we have assembled some average prices for abandoned properties around the UK, based on data from the National House Price Index.

AreaAverage Price (in £)

Abandoned house prices in the UK can vary greatly depending on a number of factors. One of the primary factors is the location of the abandoned property, however it is also fair to say that these neglected properties are often some of the cheapest houses in the UK.

For example, houses with land for sale in the southern half of England can be more expensive than a coastal property for sale in Wales. The condition of the abandoned house and the level of buyer demand can also impact its price.

An excellent tip for finding empty properties is to register with a local property auction house in your area of interest and explain you are interested in any empty unsold auction property which may appear. They will notify you if any lots of this type appear on their books.

AreaAverage Price (in £)

The table above shows some example prices for abandoned property for sale in Scotland. As with any part of the UK, Scotland has widely diverse areas when it comes to property and prices will vary around the country to reflect this.

Photo showing an abandoned house which could become a family home.
There are no abandoned houses for free in the UK. They must be purchased like any other property. Photo © Walter Baxter (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Condition Can Dramatically Affect Property Value

In some cases, abandoned houses may be priced lower due to their poor condition and the significant amount of work required to restore them. However, in areas with high demand and limited housing availability, derelict houses may be priced higher despite their poor condition.

AreaAverage Price (in £)

Another factor that can affect empty house prices is local economic conditions. Areas with strong job markets and a growing population may see higher prices for these types of old houses as more people seek housing in the area.

Conversely, areas with high levels of unemployment and limited economic growth may see lower prices as there is less demand for housing.

AreaAverage Price (in £)
Photo of an old abandoned house for sale in the UK.
The location of the abandoned property in the UK is the single biggest factor affecting prices. Photo © Alan O’Dowd (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Before Viewing Any Abandoned House or Derelict Property

Here are some things to consider before making the decision to buy an abandoned property in the UK:


The first thing to consider when thinking about buying an abandoned property is its location. Is it in a desirable neighbourhood? Are there any developments or plans that could affect the value of the property in the future? Make sure you research the location thoroughly before making any decisions.

Property Condition

Abandoned properties are often in a state of disrepair. Before buying, you should get a full survey of the property to understand what work needs to be done. Consider the cost of the repairs and make sure it is a feasible investment.

Legal Issues

When a property is completely abandoned, there may be legal issues that come with it. Make sure you do a full title search and understand any outstanding mortgages or liens that may be attached to the empty property.

Safety Concerns

Abandoned properties can be dangerous. Before buying, make sure you assess any safety concerns such as structural damage or asbestos. It is important to understand the potential risks involved before purchasing.

Financing Options

Financing an abandoned property can be difficult. Many lenders are hesitant to provide financing for properties in a state of disrepair. Make sure you have a solid financial plan in place before making any decisions.

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