It’s Empty homes Week, a week where local authorities organise activities to highlight the amazing work carried out regarding empty homes. At Finders International, we have a free service dedicated to this work, our Empty Homes Service. We wanted to share with you some of the cases we have worked on which has helped bring empty properties back into use.

Chains of Representatives

In October 2015, we worked on a case where the deceased’s property in Scotland had remained empty for some time. The majority of those who had been aware of the situation had passed away, which meant that we had to deal with the complication of chains of representatives. We notified all the beneficiaries of the situation and explained that by retaining our services they were at no risk of inheriting a debt or incurring any costs as Finders and our recommended solicitors agree to write off our costs if the estate is insolvent or a will is subsequently discovered. We recommended a local solicitor based in Edinburgh who then contacted the council and arranged for their costs, in the region of £15,000, which had been outstanding for over 20 years, to be paid from the proceeds of the property sale.

Scottish Empty Property

A council in Scotland were aware of a property that was falling into poor condition. They knew that the owner had passed away two years prior but had no idea if anyone was dealing with his estate. Our public-sector research team first located the deceased’s death record and contacted the informant. This person identified themselves as a friend but advised that they knew of two sisters to the deceased. We traced and contacted both sisters. The first was aware of the estate and had made attempts to claim it but hit a brick wall. The second sister did not appear aware of this matter. Both sisters retained our services and we helped to appoint the first sister found as executor dative and recommended our panel solicitors to deal with the property and estate on her behalf relieving her of the responsibility. Under two months from referral we were able to submit a full report to the solicitors and provide their details to the Empty Homes Team. Arrangements are now being made to repair and sell the property.

Complicated Inheritance

A council in Wales were dealing with a property whose residents had recently departed and had no claim to ownership. They were aware that the legal owner had not lived there since the late 50’s and had no idea if he was still alive. We first confirmed that the owner had passed away in the early 70’s. Due to the length of time since he had died, there became a complex chain of inheritance. The deceased died before his wife and, although they were separated, they never legally divorced meaning the asset was due to her estate. The deceased’s wife also died intestate and we traced her heirs. There were three surviving nieces and nephews, as well as five deceased nieces and nephews whose estates will now benefit. Eight months from referral, the majority have retained our services and we are working to set one of them up as administrator. We will provide the Empty Homes Team with details of the administrator and appointed solicitors as soon as they are in place.

Large Family tree

A council were dealing with a derelict property which was not registered for either rates or council tax. They had a possible name for the owner but no knowledge of whether they had died and who was dealing with their estate. We first identified the title deed to confirm the house was co-owned by the person stated and a sister. Research revealed that the sister had pre-deceased in the USA, so ownership would have reverted to one individual who died in the late 80’s. Drawing up the family tree revealed that the deceased had eleven surviving grandchildren. Four of her children and grandchildren had died after her, meaning their estates would be due to benefit. The majority of beneficiaries have retained our services and we have set one of them up as executor dative. She decided to instruct our recommended firm of solicitors. Within a year from referral we provided the Empty Homes Team with details of this firm who began work to sell the property and bring it back into use.

Power of Attorney

We were contacted by a council in reference to a property being vacant for 10 years. Even though they had identified the owner, there had been no response from him. Our researchers managed to speak to the owner within seven working days and he confirmed that he did in fact own the property and was aware that it was vacant. We offered our assistance in taking care of the property and placing it on the market to achieve maximum value which the owner agreed to.  Due to time constraints and location, the owner also agreed to sign a PoA giving authority to our MD Danny Curran to deal with all property matters on his behalf.  Unfortunately, due to the condition of the property the initial valuation was £50,000 which was almost 50% less than nearby properties.  Whilst preparing the property, we made contact with a property developer who offered to do a cash purchase of £90,000 and eventually we settled at £105,000. Finders dealt with the sale under the PoA and the owner was extremely grateful when he received his cheque for the sale of the property, without the risk of upfront fees or inconvenience of selling a property in a different country.


Please contact Finders International on +44 (0)20 7490 4935 or freephone (UK only) 0800 085 8796 to discuss the free services we offer. Alternatively, you can email [email protected]