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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

More than £1.7bn worth of unclaimed property lying vacant

There is currently around £1.744bn worth of unclaimed property lying vacant across England and Wales, according to the latest research by the property developer StripeHomes.

London and the South East rank as the primary hotspots for unclaimed estates, the research shows, with the data also revealing that there are some 7,991 estates currently left unclaimed in England and Wales and with an estimated value of £218,300 per an estate. 

The majority of these estates have been left by bachelors, spinsters and widows who have failed to pass them on via a will.  

London is the unclaimed property hotspot of England and Wales, with an estimated 30% of all unclaimed estates located in the capital. At an estimated worth of £516.7m, these unclaimed estates equate to the same value as 1,079 London homes based on the current average property price of £479,018.

The South East is home to an estimated 18% of all unclaimed properties valued at £310.7m, the equivalent value of 957 average properties in the region.

The East of England, Yorkshire and the Humber and South West are also home to some of the largest levels of unclaimed estates, with an equivalent value of between 472 and 812 average properties in the regions.

The government list of unclaimed estates is updated regularly, and each estate remains on the list for 30 years before being passed to the Treasury. Any blood/distant relative or spouse could be entitled to a share of the estate, although this doesn’t include non-married partners, civil partnerships or stepchildren.

Proof such as a family tree is required to claim on an estate, and while the process can be lengthy, it could result in a considerable gain.

James Forrester, managing director of StripeHomes, said: “Finding out you’re eligible to claim one of the thousands of unclaimed estates across England and Wales is probably one of the most fortunate but unlikely ways of getting a foot on the property ladder.

“It makes for quite depressing reading when you consider the struggle many are facing to secure a property of their own while such a substantial value of bricks and mortar is currently left tangled in red tape, only for the Government to take control of it after 30 years. 

“While procedures need to be followed to ensure anyone with a legitimate claim has the right to do so, 30 years seems a very long time to leave an estate lingering in limbo when it could be contributing positively to the current housing crisis. Particularly when you consider that the majority of these estates are located in London where the ratio of demand to the shortage of housing is probably at its worst. 

“God knows the government’s woeful house building record is unlikely to provide the homes needed, so you’d think a quick win such as utilising unclaimed estates would be something they’d have already considered.”

Date range for unclaimed estates

Count of unclaimed estates

Average estimated value

Total estimated value

All - untill 11th Sept 2020

7991

£218,300

£1,744,435,300

Sources

ONS

ONS & The Fry Group

Count x Average Value

English Region

Proportion of Unclaimed Estates (UE)

Estimated Average UE Value

Average House Price

Equivalent Number of Houses

London

30%

£516,753,017

£479,018

1079

South East

18%

£310,760,770

£324,659

957

East of England

11%

£195,948,648

£290,621

674

Yorkshire and the Humber

8%

£138,247,187

£170,198

812

South West

7%

£123,083,322

£261,006

472

East Midlands

6%

£110,873,456

£197,505

561

West Midlands

6%

£110,873,456

£187,315

592

Wales

4%

£77,985,593

£169,436

460

North East

4%

£65,381,860

£134,545

486

North West

3%

£44,113,062

£168,261

262

Unclassified

3%

£50,414,929

-

-

Sources

BLM

BLM & ONS

Gov.uk

Total estimated value / average house price

  • icon

    It is completely immoral, when there is such an acute shortage of housing and so much rough sleeping and homelessness, for properties to be kept empty for months and even years. Properties are built to be lived in, not to sit there as owners' capital. Remedy? Maybe charge double or treble council tax on properties deliberately kept empty. as an incentive to get people e.g. tenants living in them. Exceptions should be for set periods following the death, hospitalisation, imprisonment of the previous inhabitants, void periods between tenancies, or during major building works. Properties must not serve as just empty stores of cash during major housing shortages, with owners simply waiting for them to appreciate in value as time goes by.

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    Get up to date! Council tax is already doubled for properties left empty long term - even when they have been bought by new owners who are bringing them back up to habitable standards - which acts as a disincentive to people buying them to improve them and is also reflected in higher rents for new occupiers. Only the local council wins with this crazy rule that you support but didn't know already existed.

    PS. Why on earth give special treatment to prisoners? Surely their properties could be used by the homeless whilst they are getting free board and lodging at tax payers expense?

     
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    Sorry, I disagree.

    As with all investments, value may go up as well as down.

    You pays your money, you takes your chance.

     
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    Seb

    As is often the case, I have no idea what points you are trying to make!

    I was stating facts, not expressing any opinion or "moaning" as you have accused me of in the past.

     
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    Robert - I wasn't talking to you ;-)

    More specifically, the statements, "Properties are built to be lived in, not to sit there as owners' capital." and, "Maybe charge double or treble council tax on properties deliberately kept empty. as an incentive to get people e.g. tenants living in them."

     
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    @ Robert, non of us understand seb's comments, he thinks he is a very intelegent person, he shows himself to be no more than a fool, his comments are not worth reading, I simply delete them.

     
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    What is immoral about me wanting to to do what I want to do with my property that I have worked and paid for and it belongs to me!!!! And me only.

    We supposedly live in a society that follows normal supply and demand protocols.

    That is the way it is, and everyone should implicitly agree to abide within that system, and not take other peoples properties for no cost.

    That is near as dammit, theft.

    What else will they take: Cars, second homes, my bed, my refrigerator?

    This must stop now.

    The market must dictate and if these people have no money to pay their lives, then that is totally their fault for not saving or acting in an appropriate way to take care of themselves just as most of have done and still do.

  • Paul Barrett

    @seb forbes

    Yep entirely correct only an idiot would believe that the value of property which is just another investment class will only increase in value.

    Property is just another commodity whose value as you suggest can go up and down.

    Any property investor must surely be aware of this!!

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    most empty properties are owned by govt

    or probate

    or in prison

    and covid 19 is an excuse for nwo

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    In Norwich there are many properties stting empty long term, mostly owned by Norwich City Council, I've even tryed to buy some of them, they say they don't own them, but land registry says other wise,

     
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    It sure is an excuse......
    They signed a contract, so how can it be that a Govt. allows these people to openly commit what is a crime...Albeit a civil one.

    A CRIME is a CRIME!!!!!!!

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    A crime is a crime... Do you want to explain that to ER or BLM ?

     
  • Paul Barrett

    Just had an interesting conversation with the Empty Homes team of my Council.

    Somehow they seemed to believe that 3 of my properties were empty.

    As has been mentioned Councils impose penal Council Tax rates on empty properties.

    The simple solution where habitable is to have lodgers in one's various homes.

    The Council accepted this as a valid strategy indeed agreeing it made eminent sense.
    My council is fully aware that my properties are occupied by me and occasionally lodgers and and are fully furnished.

    No silly tenancy conditions or laws to be concerned with.

    As I have suggested a very effective strategy for LL not wishing to let on AST.

    The Council perspective is it wants properties occupied and not empty which is fair enough.

    Lodgers make a property occupied.
    LL just need to live at their properties at least once per month.


  • icon

    council is only after money--it does not give a toss about anything else

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    Pretty clear?
    :-)

     
    Paul Barrett

    Yep agreed which is why if LL don't have tenants they need to occupy their properties at least once per month and take in lodgers.

    This solves the problem of removing feckless rent defaulting tenants.

    Feckless rent defaulting lodgers are easy to get rid of.

    For many tenants they would have no issues being converted to lodgers.


    Lodgers are easily sourced via spareroom.
    No need to use LA.

    The only real issue with lodgers is they can't be families.

    As such a lodger LL has to deal with more lodger churn of singles and couples.

    No big deal when compared with the issues surrounding tenants.

    It certainly is one way to remain in the PRS but NOT be ever subject to feckless rent defaulting TENANTS.

     
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    I am against C/tax on empty property. I have empty property and paying c/tax on it but not by choice cant find Tenants, Can't advertise or market properly anymore because its all been hi-jacked by piggy in the middle internet preventing you from contacting the potential Tenant without going through them useless delaying , obstructing process, more useless Digital academics grabbing our business for themselves that's what the internet has done destroying the World. The place is infested with so called Corporate Letting Companies, just Companies by the thousands doing R2R subletting your house room by room. The Lodger business is well established for years behind closed doors housing 2-3 persons each, about 12 lots in my road alone but a stranger wouldn't ever suspect or the Revenue for that matter, so the £ 7'500 exemption is very handy for them, that will do nicely, they are well connected in high places which is why it was raised from £4'250 maybe they could give them another lift ?. I have to pay tax on every penny, + licensing / compliance of every kind it's disgusting .

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    What is the burden on the Council if there is no occupant ???

     
    Paul Barrett

    Personally I believe ALL lodger income should be tax free.

    This would incentivise many OO with empty rooms in big houses to take in lodgers.

    There are MILLIONS of spare rooms wasting away which could be used to boost OO income in these troubled times.

    It would certainly be an eye catching policy such that many OO would suffer the inconvenience of having strangers in their home.

    The tax free lodger income could make all the difference to what will be very straitened circumstances for homeowners.

    If this means reduced demand for normal rental properties so be it.


     
  • Paul Barrett

    @seb

    Services still have to be paid for whether a property is occupied or not.

    However there should be certain exemptions or discounts as there once were.

    No LL keeps a property empty through choice unless circumstances like now are made so difficult that letting isn't worth it.
    There should be at least 6 months of no CT for empty properties followed by 50% discount until occupied

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    Paul, I understand that services still have to be paid for but, surely, it should be by those that consume the service ? What services does an empty property consume ?

    In a similar vein, I don't use the NHS so why should I have to pay for it... and I don't watch the BBC so why should I have to pay for it ?

     
  • Paul Barrett

    An example my property currently vacant is spotted by a passing dog walker to be on fire.
    The dog walker calls the Fire Service who extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading to other properties.
    Should I as that property owner expect a free Fire Service!?

    I think NOT.
    Certainly contributions of some amount should be paid by all property owners.

    Occupancy or not doesn't validate no CT being paid.

    Maybe not the fi CT but at least something.

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    Since 2010-11 income from the Department for Communities and Local Government – which has primary responsibility for funding the fire sector – has fallen significantly. The National Audit Office found the Government reduced funding for fire and rescue authorities by between 26% and 39%. Its investigation also revealed that spending power has fallen most in areas assessed by the department as having highest levels of fire need.

    To mitigate the impact of the cuts fire and rescue authorities have sought to raise more funds through council tax and in a number of cases through alternative business structures. However this has not proven to generate substantial income and has not off-set funding reductions. Apprehensive about the possible permanence of current financial restraints, fire and rescue authorities have thus far resisted the urge to fall back on their financial reserves.

    So, your point is valid but it appears that your local council is wasting the contribution that your CT provides toward the Fire Services... another story for another day.

     
  • Paul Barrett

    Agreed allocation of CT resources is very much a political determination.
    The Fire Service like other services suffers from underfunding.

    But it gets on as best it can.
    There are severe. H & S implications affect personnel such that SOP aren't easy to implement.

    But whether empty or not property owners should make some CT contributions.

  • icon

    OK well its very easy to say pay something on empty but no income being produced, no service been provided or Bins emptied. Where does the money come from ? but just pay it anyway, it's already costing enough with Insurances, standing charges, keeping it secure etc, it a liability already but Council are so smart they are thinking of doubling it. I think everyone should contribute not like the very un-fair system we have now. Two people say living in a House paying £2k c/tax very common, but if 6 /8 /10 live there probably Asians or Chinese as example only, they pay the same same as he 2, so several people are paying nothing while c/tax increases all the time its like a money tree, now we had 2% increase this year, another 2% Adult Social Care added on, huge percentage to GLA that we have no control over and waste it, so its fine for a huge number of the residence to pay nothing while having the same facility's &services provided to them for free as the couple paying the full c/tax of £2'000.00 pa, give me a break, nothing personal Paul.

    Paul Barrett

    No I totally agree with your sentiments.

    Essentially you are advocating an alternative to Council Tax.

    I agree.

    Perhaps a local income tax so slightly different from from the much derided Community charge.
    CT should be based on the ability to pay based on normal taxation allowances.
    So in your example there could be 10 adults paying the local income tax.
    This was a policy of the Liberals over 35 years ago.
    It would be a far fairer tax policy than the current CT regime.


    But I doubt there is any Govt desire to change the CT system again.
    The last time they tried it didn't end well!
    But for Govt CT has an overwhelming simplicity.

    Property doesn't tend to move much so little chance of evading property taxes etc!!

     
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    Margaret Thatcher brought in the much fairer Community Charge but the lefties called it the Poll Tax and hoodwinked the majority into thinking it was unfair. Another non existent but much vilified "Bedroom Tax" was the perfectly justified removal of the Spare Room Subsidy which wrongly subsidised social tenants to stay in houses larger than needed and preventing families from moving out of more cramped accommodation.

    Two examples where fairer systems were successfully vilified by the loony lefties and harmed the more deserving sections of the population.

     
  • icon

    Yes but I have a different take on this. Lady Thatcher had a point with the poll tax it would have worked but for the people that never paid nothing didn't ever wanted to pay anything, a bit like the Benefit Claimants now, all went marching and got it scrapped because its all about them.
    I agree to having the ten paying the c/tax is far better as they are the end user of the services been provided to them but the bit that sticks in the throat is the reference about the ability to pay this just lets them off the hook again, they will have the poor mouth and probably be on Benefit once again pay nothing, tell them we don't owe them a living instead of sympathy for them all the time, we don't get any privileges only hammered ?.

  • Paul Barrett

    You are of course correct but this is how national taxation works.
    Many contribute nothing.

    It is necessarily unfair for a dustman to pay the same as a Duke.
    That was the CT failing .
    Individual CT makes sense but it is accepted that those at the bottom of earnings levels pay little tax.

    Yes we know much gaming of the welfare system occurs but currently is the best system we have.




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