From ‘squat’ to ‘hot': Rentify’s guide to rescuing empty properties

This week, the London Evening Standard reported on a row of run-down Edwardian villas which have been transformed from hovels to property hot spots. All it took was a little TLC. Well, that and money. Despite the widely discussed housing crisis in the UK, a surprising number of properties across the country are currently unoccupied and falling into a state of dishevelment. Here are the essential, need-to-know rules for finding one of these empty homes and turning it into a source of income.

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1. Set a budget – and stick to it!

Rescuing a house doesn’t need to be the most expensive thing in the world, but laying out your finances ahead of time is absolutely essential. If you don’t, then you run the risk of ending up skint halfway through the process, up a certain creek without any means of propulsion.

2. Finding a suitable property

Local councils often keep a list of all empty properties in the area, although you may need to submit a written request in order to gain access to this information. Otherwise, online auctions are always a viable option – just so long as your eyes don’t get bigger than your wallet.

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3. Assemble a team you can trust

Architects, builders, conveyancers – they’re called ‘experts’ for a reason. Listen to their input on whether your latest find is a money pit or golden goose.

4. Sealing the deal

Find out who owns the empty property with help from your local authority or Land Registry. It is worth enquiring whether your local authority employs an empty property officer, i.e. somebody whose objective is to ensure that unused properties in the region are kept to a minimum. They can help you get the house back in use.

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5. Getting a mortgage

Banks tend not to issue mortgages to derelict buildings, but there are an array of specialist mortgage products out there designed for exactly this market. Try The Ecology Building Society, Buildstore,  or The Co-operative Bank.

6. Dealing with squatters

Unsure of how to proceed with any existing, less-than-legal residents? Visit gov.uk to find out more about squatting and lawful evictions.

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7. Getting the place tenant-ready

Go from wreck to des-res with our guide to renovating your property, and then make it feel like a home for prospective tenants.

For more information and support,  contact The Empty Homes Network, an organisation dedicated to getting neglected properties back in use.

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