Home > FAQs > The Facts on Unclaimed Land and Property in the UK

The Facts on Unclaimed Land and Property in the UK

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 22 Jul 2021 | comments*Discuss
Unclaimed Land Property Abandoned

It is not impossible to claim unregistered land and abandoned property in the UK but it will take some research and time. There is a legal process that must be followed when claiming unregistered land and the many thousands of abandoned properties in the UK.

Claiming Land and Property in the UK

It’s doubtful that the UK is littered with unclaimed land and property. But land or property that is unregistered can be claimed by UK citizens and the first step will be actually locating the unregistered land or property. Tracking down unclaimed land and property is known as targeting. The next step will be to check with the UK Land Registry to ensure that the targeting land or property is unregistered. The Land Registry is available for inspection and should give information on the targeted land or property.

What Constitutes Unclaimed Land and Property?

Land that has being lying empty or vacant for years may actually be available to be claimed. This can also be true of derelict and abandoned properties. A postal code of the unclaimed land or property will required by the Land Registry. A search of the property or land through the Land Registry will come with a small fee. But simply because a property or plot of land is unregistered or looks abandoned does not mean that someone does not own it. There can be legal consequences for anyone who decides to simply occupy an abandoned plot of land or property

Claiming Unregistered Land in the UK

Claiming unregistered property or land is not a simple process. In order to claim abandoned land a person must first have taken possession of the land. This means erecting fences around the land and occupying it for a certain period of time, this is known as adverse possession. The adverse possession period is 10 years for registered land and 12 years for unregistered land. The person must also be able to prove that they have been in adverse possession for this amount of time. Only then will they be able to register with the Land Registry.

Searching Out Unclaimed Land or Property

Tracing or targeting unclaimed land or property may be one of the most difficult aspects. In most cases it will involve simply searching in person around a city or town. If land does look abandoned or a property looks old and vacant then it may be unregistered. There are usually properties that look as if they have been sitting vacant for many years. But this does not mean that the property is unregistered; this is the reason that the Land Registry must be used to access information on the property or land.

Spotting Unclaimed UK Property

There are a few signs that may help when trying to find abandoned property. These signs are not definite proof that the property is abandoned but can be a guide before checking with the land registry. Signs to look out for will include:

  • Boarded up windows and doors
  • Gardens that are unkempt and overgrown
  • The property has been uninhabited for many years and neighbours are unaware of tenants living there
  • The garden is often used for people tipping rubbish
  • The property is in great need of repair
  • There have been previous reports of squatters in the abandoned property
  • Vermin can be seen in the property gardens

Squatters Rights to Legally Claim Property

Squatting in abandoned properties has a long tradition in the UK. Squatting in England and Wales is not illegal although it is unlawful under civil law, and is illegal in Scotland. Squatters can actually become the legal occupiers, and in some cases owners, of abandoned properties in the UK. Squatting simply means entering an abandoned property and squatters do have rights once inside a property. The police cannot evict squatters from an abandoned property as it is a civil matter and squatters are provided with protection by law. Again, details of ownership of the property can be found through the Land Registry.

The internet has become rife with advertisements that claim to be able to show people the easy way to claim unregistered land that does not belong to anyone. Many of these advertisements will of course come with a fee to gain this knowledge. This information is widely available through the Land Registry. A detailed fact sheet on the steps required is available as well as information on the various false claims made in these advertisements. Checking with a local Land Registry will be beneficial in order to become aware of the rules and regulations that apply to unclaimed land and property.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I have lived in a H.A property for 22 years, there is a free standing at the rear where people park. Have had it reconfirmed by land registry that there's no register owner...hasn't been since I have lived here and would like to purchase this land. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you in advance
Relle - 22-Jul-21 @ 7:04 PM
We have lived in our home for 38 years and the coppice across the border stream from our garden has never been touched in all this time.We have maintained the clearance of the stream on our stretch in accordance with the local council requests and have cut back some of the coppice and collected fallen wood etc.Maintained the metre wide area for wildlife and have asked who owned it.The water board say it is not theirs.The people who own the valley have fenced it off and left it.The houses above have fenced it off and left it.We have a security fence on our side of the stream and would now like to claim this land.How do we go about it in the simplest and most cost effective way?
Maggie - 6-Jul-21 @ 9:18 PM
We have a bit of land next to our house , it has a water / sewage pump on part if it , but the water company have told us they do not own the land . Could we put a fence around it also giving the water company rights to access , but still claim the land ?
Ezza - 16-Jun-21 @ 7:31 PM
We are moving into a property which has unclaimed land at the back.A temporary fence has been put up around this area and has been for 10 years.As new owners of the house, does this 12 year period start again, or does it continue from the previous owners. Thanks
Andy - 4-Jun-21 @ 1:07 PM
Would i be able to claim and old roc post currently owned by the mod?
Curtis - 2-May-21 @ 8:16 AM
Theres an abandoned piece of land that belonged to a company who have now moved. Im after claiming the land but i need to build fences around it first and that means taking down a crumbling wall all the way round and some heavy construction fences. Im up in yorkshire and wondered if anybody could help on the best way for me to take these down safely.
Hawk - 30-Mar-21 @ 10:44 PM
I have been a On land for 12 years and have spent thousand maintaining it especially on the fencing but can’t seem to get the postcode for it and I know it is unregistered,please can someone point me in the right direction as when I try on land registry it only give me property postcode next door, Many thanks
Pj - 21-Mar-21 @ 1:17 PM
I own outright a freehold cottage in Wales that has an adjoining property at the rear with a flying freehold over my kitchen (nobody knows why - it's been this layout for nearly 80 years). But that property has been abandoned for decades, is slowly falling apart, even has a tree growing in what used to be the living room. The roof on it is now leaking and the water is now collecting on the floor above my kitchen - and has already led to one electrical fire. The Land Registry annoyingly lists the "current" owner as someone who died over a decade ago, so nobody seems to own it any more. Although I do own the freehold, my solicitor says I can't access it to make emergency repairs, leaving my house in a dangerous predicament. What are my options?
HYFRYDLE - 2-Feb-21 @ 2:43 PM
There's an abandoned building where I live it's been abandoned for about 15 yearswhat can i do about it
Lordc - 31-Dec-20 @ 6:34 PM
Hi, I would like to purchased some abandoned houses in Scotland. I was following the QLTR website, but doesn’t provide with a lot of info! Could you please guide me how can I buy some properties?! Kind Regards Alex
Alex - 1-Dec-20 @ 1:36 PM
Hi found a old abandon house not far where i live looks like no ones lived there for years by looking at the boards on the windows how do i go about claiming it and turning it back into a house i can live or sell on. I dont know the owner is i got the house name if that helps. Called upper Bilham Farm. I believe it could be set for demolition but i dont want to see it bulldozed by the housing developers next door.Let me know
TheDarkWizard74 - 16-Nov-20 @ 6:06 PM
Back in the 90's I found myself homeless, I found an old stable block, doors missing, used as a local tip, I lived there for a while, replacing the doors, putting in a water supply and electricity, prior to the internet I did try to find the owner, I had an address which I wrote to, I never received a reply, I tried several more times over the years, the land registry still has the owner at the address which I wrote to previously, the person is no longer there, I have tried to trace them to no avail, I have since made the property into a living home, I have been paying the bills for over 25 years, I still can't trace the owner, can I claim adverse possession? If so, what is the procedure?
Jam - 3-Nov-20 @ 10:12 PM
Hi there I have a question my mum and dad have lived in there property for 17 years now and there is a piece of land attached to there garden it’s of fair size but completely overgrown and causes lots of issues my dad has to go and cut some it down regularly. The issue is no one knows who it belongs too we have asked all neighbours they don’t know how do I find out maybe could make my parents garden bigger and get it sorted not right that my elderly father has to sort it dead foxes and rats in there need help please. Thanks.
Nikki - 21-Oct-20 @ 8:31 AM
What's best resource to utilized during Registry Land claim?
Yohannah - 6-Oct-20 @ 7:25 PM
Hi, I live in Wales and own a garage on a leased plot of land but not payed any ground rent since 2017 due to not being billed, can the land owner legally claim the property on his land?
Chuckie - 20-Sep-20 @ 11:37 AM
Hi, I live in Wales and own a garage on a leased plot of land but not payed any ground rent since 2017 due to not being billed, can the land owner legally claim the property on his land?Thanks Steve
Chuckie - 20-Sep-20 @ 11:28 AM
I've found a property that has not been lived in since 1970 , but I've heard 2 brothers own it but can't decide who gets the biggest share of the land thats with the property. Im not bothered about the land but could the property be claimed
ali - 2-Sep-20 @ 12:59 PM
I've found a property that hasn't been lived in since 1970 , but I've heard its owned by 2 brothers that can't make up their minds on who gets the biggest share of the land .can I claim this property that has layed empty for many years .
ali - 2-Sep-20 @ 12:57 PM
hi I have come across 2 properties in my area which have been vacant for over 7 years, I have the information from land registry and the was both registered in 2006. Can I still look at claiming them?
Rick - 24-Aug-20 @ 5:54 AM
Hi I live in the south of England and i was wondering if its possible to claim an abandon house or property without having to move in? if so what is the process? I am extremely lost in this matter.
Edvek - 18-Aug-20 @ 5:21 PM
Hi There is an abandoned property that i have my eyes on for 6 years now, its been abandoned more than 15 years and its unregistered, what steps do i need to take in order to buy or possess this property? Please i really need some help here. Thanks
Sousou - 14-Aug-20 @ 3:03 PM
I fund a abandoned house, what is the procedure? First to do, many thanks,
Alin - 6-Aug-20 @ 6:06 PM
HELP AND ADVICE PLEASE !!!!! Our property( detached bungalow) has a mixed freehold /leasehold title. This is now causing issues when trying to sell. The leasehold part is noted at Land Registry but the owner of the lease is unknown The exact area of land is also unclear. The lease was granted in 1596 for 499 years. We have an indemnity policy but 2 conveyancers have advised potential buyers from proceeding. Enfranchisement is a way forward but its costly and lengthy with no guarantee of success. We have the names of the original person who granted the lease and the two people it was granted to - so we really would like to know if is there a way to possibly trace the unknown inheritor - that we could then 'buy' the land from them ????
vickio - 27-Jul-20 @ 10:45 AM
I need to find out about buying abandoned property in uk or any other country can you please help thanks
Jizcar - 20-Jul-20 @ 12:26 PM
I have lived in my house for over 20 years there is a drive which I have cared for and used for that amount of time it’s been used since 1967 by my family the farmer now is selling his land adjacent to me and says the drive is his , it doesn’t lead any where just to my fence in the garden the farmer has told me I need permission to erect my shed, we had a shed there for about 10 years took it down and now have a new one can he take this bit of land off me
Sal - 12-Jul-20 @ 3:05 PM
The land registry charges a fair bit to do a search of a particular piece of property but is their a way in which I can search a wider big area before I look specifically at a particular spot rather than paying so much for specific places? Regards, Ivan
Ivan - 30-Jun-20 @ 6:44 PM
There is a small patio between two properties next to our patio that doesn’t appear in either properties Land registry There is a flat upstairs too and the patio doesn’t appear in their registry either but apparently belongs to no one. However the previous owner of our property lived there for 10 years and Maintained this patioWe have maintained it for 2 years since purchasing this property Can we claim it as ours as it’s been maintained by the owners of our property for the last 12 years. It’s is also immeditely outside our kitchen and bedroom windows Thanks
SHB - 28-Jun-20 @ 10:05 PM
Hi I found an empty property and checked with the land registry it is unregistered and also checked with neighbours they said no one lives in there from last 15 years what should I do next any advice, Thanks
Gagan - 28-Jun-20 @ 8:21 PM
Hi there! If i find unregistered land or an unregistered property. Can i claim this as mine and register it? What would I need to do? Thank you
Dot - 24-Jun-20 @ 12:31 AM
Hi there, We are looking to buy a property but on the land registry, the driveway is not currently owned by the property owners. It is not owned by anyone. The couple say that they could have claimed the land as they had owned it for more than 12 years however earlier than 12 years ago they put a gate and fence around the land so they are under the assumption that they have to wait another 12 years from when the fence and gate was built. Is this the case and can we claim it from when they have owned the house or would we need to wait another 12 years?
Gray - 20-Jun-20 @ 4:39 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word: