Finders International CEO and founder Danny Curran was featured in an article in the Daily Mirror recently about the problem of empty homes in the UK.

According to Government figures, about 200,000 homes are standing empty and unused. Thanks to high prices, this means councils and developers struggle to get them back on the market. While local authorities can force the sale of an empty or derelict property so that it can be brought back into use, either buying the home themselves or forcing sales in cases where people have unpaid debts or are ignoring statutory notices. Unfortunately, councils often do not have the money or resources to carry out this activity.

The Mirror article attributed the problem of empty or derelict homes to the complications that can occur when someone dies, an issue that we at Finders International are all too aware of. We run a derelict property reporting service, where members of the public can tell us about an empty home in their area, and we can find out who the owners are.

Danny, who also chairs the International Association of Professional Probate Researchers, told the Mirror that at Finders International, we’ve noticed a 17 percent increase in probate-related property cases since 2015. There are numerous reasons for this, but one reason is the unbalanced property market, which has left more empty homes stuck in probate.

Other issues include families hanging onto properties as they think they are valuable assets, but those homes then fall into disrepair. Then, families might not have enough money to fix the properties to make them fit for profitable resale, so they keep hanging onto them.

Often, correspondence that comes from councils can seem aggressive—such as if they issue compulsory purchase orders, or they order people to do something about the house, but don’t offer any solutions for this.

Danny said: “A solution to this is to use trusted intermediary companies than can approach owners in a more ‘softly, softly’ way. We know councils lack the time and resources to track down the family members who own derelict homes. As a professional probate research firm, we can often do this in 24 hours.

“Over the last few years, the housing market has fluctuated wildly. It was buoyant in 2015, but then stalled thanks to the Brexit vote in 2016. Families might be holding onto properties waiting for that ‘perfect’ time to sell.

“Another reason for not selling is that the owners or executors do not have the capacity or inclination to make legal or financial decisions as significant as these. That can also include an emotional attachment to the property, which is easy enough to understand.”

To report a derelict property to Finders International, contact us here.