What you never hope to find in your unoccupied property

Buying property is full of all sorts of challenges, from negotiating contracts and sorting paperwork to arranging inspections and finalising the sale. However, when it comes to purchasing an unoccupied property, the risks can sometimes be higher, due to the lack of human presence.

Highlighted below are just some of the potential issues that property owners do not want to find in their unoccupied properties.

Unwanted leaks

It is important not to underestimate the damage a leaking pipe or faucet can cause. A continuous leaking pipe, that drips un-noticed for a prolonged period, could cause:

  • A build-up of harmful mould
  • Damp floors, walls or ceilings can rot and become unstable
  • Walls, floors, or surfaces could become warped or stained
  • Damp or wet internal insulation can become ineffective
  • Water could penetrate electrical sockets or exposed wires, increasing the risk of a fire


Destructive, unhygienic, or generally bothersome, any animal, insect or plant can be considered a pest if it starts to affect your quality of life and impact your surroundings. Some of the more common pests in the UK, that can be found in and around your property are:

  • Rats
  • Mice
  • Cockroaches
  • Silverfish
  • Fleas
  • Moths
  • Japanese knotweed
  • Common ivy


If you discover that squatters have been illegally residing in your property, you should try and evict them as soon as possible. The longer the squatters stay in your property, the harder it becomes to evict them. To evict squatters safely and legally from your property, the following guidelines usually apply:

Call the police immediately – The police will be able to determine if the people in your property are trespassing or squatting on your property. They can legally remove trespassers.

Serving an eviction notice – If the police determine that the people on your property are squatters, then you will have to serve them with an eviction notice which will need to be administered by the local authority.

Lawsuits – A lawsuit may follow if the squatters do not leave after being served their eviction notice. Unfortunately, this can be a lengthy and time-consuming process and usually followed up with an eviction court hearing.

Removal of squatters – If all goes to plan with the lawsuit, the squatters will have to move from your property. The police will also have legal rights to remove the squatters if they do not co-operate. Not all scenarios will involve this lengthy process as some squatters my leave on their own accord when first confronted. Either way, it is extremely important to follow your local authorities’ guidelines on how to evict unwanted guests on your property, as taking matters into your own hands, could complicate the situation moving forward.

Ground heave or subsidence

Ground heave can occur when established trees or shrubs die or are removed, therefore removing their root systems that help absorb moisture from the soil. Without these root systems, excess water can accumulate in the ground, causing the soil to expand and heave upwards. Clay soils are particularly prone to ground heave, as clay can expand extensively when wet, and shrink when dry.

Subsidence is caused when the ground underneath a building begins to collapse or sinks lower, affecting or taking with it, the buildings foundations. Clay soil is very susceptible to subsidence, especially during the warmer months when the earth shrinks due to extreme dryness. Trees can also contribute to subsidence, with species such as Populus, Oak and Conifers having a higher water intake than other trees, therefore absorbing large amounts of moisture from the soil.

Noticeable signs of subsidence and ground heave can include large, thick cracks that often appear next to a door or window and can often spread internally and externally. Other signs may include shrinkage in wallpaper, jarring of windows and doors, and cracks running along the masonry.


Given its unforgiving nature, it is no surprise that Asbestos can strike fear into any homeowner and builder, if found within a property. Many homes across the UK and worldwide will have used Asbestos based materials such as roofing panels, insulation and Artex ceilings, which is why it is not surprising to still come across Asbestos in older homes.

The natural fine fibres that make up Asbestos, can be easily inhaled or swallowed when the material is broken up or has been disturbed. This can lead to significant health complications such as the development of Asbestosis and an increased risk of cancer, in particular Mesothelioma. Because of the long lasting and deadly side effects of Asbestos, in 1999 the importation, supply and use of Asbestos was banned in the United Kingdom, with the amphibole type having been banned since 1985.

If you find Asbestos in and around your unoccupied property, do not attempt to remove it yourself. If the Asbestos is in good condition and is not broken or damaged, it is less harmful to humans. However, if you plan on removing Asbestos or you find broken or damaged Asbestos in your unoccupied property, you should have it removed by licensed professionals, who will then legally dispose of it as hazardous waste.