Can you purchase an unoccupied property

Unoccupied or abandoned properties are not as uncommon as you may think, and according to October 2020 figures from the House of Commons Library, there were as many as 648,114 empty properties in the UK, with 225,845 classed as long-term empty properties (empty for longer than six months).

But does this mean you can purchase an unoccupied or abandoned property? The answer is yes, you can. However, purchasing an unoccupied and abandoned property may not be as straight forward as purchasing an occupied residential or commercial property.

What to watch out for

When considering purchasing an unoccupied property, it’s important to note some of the potential issues you could face, including:

  • Special permission to be grated for renovations, extensions, or demolition of the unoccupied property. Listed buildings or properties of historical significance can often carry tighter restrictions.
  • Major work may not be able to be carried out on the unoccupied property until the land has had an environmental survey.
  • Before the property can be habitable for residential or commercial tenants, the property must meet the legal requirements for it be rented or leased.
  • A restrictive covenant could be in place, which can prevent property owners from doing certain things to the property.

Check list before purchasing

Buying a vacant property can have its risks. Some important questions to ask before purchasing an unoccupied property could be:

  • How long has the property has been vacant for?
  • Is the property weather and watertight?
  • Is the property connected to utilities such as water, gas and sewerage and are there any restrictions on renovating or demolishing the property?

Other factors to consider before purchasing an unoccupied property are:

  • Budgeting
  • Researching legal and building restrictions (as mentioned above)
  • What utilities are available?
  • Investing in the appropriate inspections
  • Future maintenance costs
  • Unoccupied and general buildings insurance

Further nuisances common with unoccupied properties

Because of the lack of human presence, unoccupied properties are prone to other common problems, which should be factored when considering purchasing an vacant property. These include:

  • Unwanted leaks
  • Pest
  • Squatters
  • Ground heave or subsidence
  • Asbestos


Many home insurance providers will only cover an unoccupied property for up to 30 or 60 consecutive days, however, it is possible to buy specialist unoccupied property insurance that will offer protection for a longer period of time. There may be conditions attached with the insurance policy, such as the requirement to visit the property on a regular basis or keep heating on at a minimum.

If you do not plan on living in your new property or will not have it ready for habitation for a while, consider researching what insurance is available for you and your unoccupied property, and exactly what it covers you for, to ensure it’s right for your needs.

Views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of Guardcover Unoccupied Property.