How to take ownership of an abandoned house?

In order to make headway in a competitive Australian real estate market, many people are going to great lengths. One such example of this is looking for abandoned properties to buy. The ability to save money on a property in a certain area makes this option an appealing draw. In addition, people that own these properties may be motivated to sell due to wanting to avoid paying the vacant property tax. Here are some of the key insights you need in order to successfully purchase abandoned property.

What qualifies as abandoned property? 

While the exact definition may vary, there are a few key items that are taken into account when it comes to determining the status of a property as abandoned, or not. These include:

  • Non-paid rent
  • The dwelling clearly being neglected and unoccupied
  • No mail being collected
  • Regular reports from neighbours about the resident’s absence or location
  • The disconnect of services
  • Removal of personal items from the property

These issues generally need to be present for an extended amount of time, also, but that may vary by state.

How do you find abandoned houses?

Here are 6 of the ideal methods for finding abandoned houses for potential purchases:

  1. Checking in with a local clerk
  2. Reaching out to other realtors in your network to see if they know about abandoned properties
  3. Talking to mail deliverers to see if they notice any abandoned dwellings on their route
  4. Reaching out to a property lawyer
  5. Looking at property auctions
  6. Reaching out to banks and seeing homes they may have under foreclosure

Not all of these situations may apply in every scenario. People interested in abandoned dwellings will need to be prepared to do some research and investigation to determine the nature of the property and how they can go about buying it.

Is it illegal to go into an abandoned house? 

The biggest issue here is that it can be difficult to tell at first glance if a property is truly abandoned or just vacant.

If it’s vacant, it still has an owner, and it’s illegal to enter without permission.

For truly abandoned property, you can enter and actually occupy it over time via the old rule of adverse possession.

However, you need to occupy the property for an extended amount of time and meet some key requirements.

Generally, you want to make sure you have legal recourse before exploring an abandoned home.

How do you buy an abandoned house? 

Once you find abandoned houses for sale in Australia you’re interested in, assuming you’re not going to attempt adverse possession, you need to reach out to the owner and put together an offer. If it ends up being owned by a bank, you may be able to pick it up at a real estate auction.

How do you find the owner of a vacant property?

Generally, the best way to go about this is by looking up local real estate records.

However, if the owner is deceased or perhaps moved abroad, it may take a while for you to get into contact with them.

Overall, while abandoned properties pose a great opportunity in the Australian real estate world, you want to make sure that you’re protected legally to make sure that you stay in compliance.

Along with this, the most prime opportunities for purchase aren’t likely to be available long.

As a result, you want to make sure that you invest in the tools and resources that will help you find the ideal properties quickly, like a homeowners’ database in Australia.

By keeping track of abandoned dwellings in your area, you may end up getting a diamond in the rough with minimal effort.

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'How to take ownership of an abandoned house?' have 14 comments

  1. Avatar for Real Estate List Provider

    March 14, 2021 @ 12:03 am Akemie Y Phillips

    Just looking for my own place an a new start


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    April 9, 2021 @ 3:34 am Tyrone Dillard

    i am in Kansas city Mo i work with homeless and I am working my non profit i want to get a cheap fixer or abandon house please contact me and let me know.


    • Avatar for Real Estate List Provider

      April 9, 2021 @ 6:10 am sav

      Sorry, we don’t search for abandoned properties in USA. This is a blog post about how to acquire ownership.


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      October 3, 2021 @ 2:25 am Rachel M Hayter

      Likewise, I am looking into it. Perhaps I should create a page for it.


  3. Avatar for Real Estate List Provider

    May 8, 2021 @ 12:46 pm Nur

    Looking for abondent house.


  4. Avatar for Real Estate List Provider

    June 3, 2021 @ 3:46 pm Ebony

    I have two abandoned houses on my street. Both are clearly neglected (long grass, clearly decaying etc.) and my partner and I have never seen any movement or signs of life inside. From my research on property websites it has been listed as a deceased estate and upon getting a title search were given two names of owners who were registered in 2016. However, I have been unable to find anyone who matches these names who lives in Australia. Do you have any advice on who to contact in order for a sale or for my partner and I to possess the house and the land? We think it would be a good steal and nice to rebuild something that has been neglected for so long. I look forward to hearing back from you.


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      June 13, 2021 @ 1:28 am Christina Smith

      I am in the United States and here we have what’s called Adverse Possession law that could allow a person to occupy abandoned land/shelter and if done so properly, then it is legal. You can Google the process of obtaining adverse possession of a property to find out the process. Basically cannot do anything illegal, such as break and enter since that’s illegal. Although, if you’re able to gain entry without force or breaking, then you may enter if it be only to secure the place. In the state of Arizona (USA), there are what is called “Squatters Rights” which basically allows a person to remain within a residence so long as their being there is improving the property in some way, shape or form (upgrading, maintaining lawn, etc). The only law being broken in either case of adverse possession and squatting is trespassing. Although, the law allows for such squatting and adverse possession because it is a property owners responsibility to upkeep and maintain responsible ownership of their land and should they not do so, risk losing it to someone who will. My advice to you is to look into your local laws regarding these situations and should they be similar to what I’ve just explained, go ahead and try to gain entry without having to “break in” so to speak. Should you have to break in, make sure you have a way of immediately fixing whatever it is broken as a way to cover up the illegal act. Once that is done the burden of proof lies on them and more than likely can’t be accomplished (assuming nobody saw you!). Once inside the property, secure it in a way that allows you re-entry without force (change locks, etc). Then try establishing your residence there. This can be done by getting utilities turned on in your name, and receiving Mail at the residence. I know in Arizona, once residency is established, an authoritarian would have to go through the court process of eviction to get you to leave. Once residency is established, you are then considered a tenant of the property and able to stand on your rights of being a “tenant”. Hope this info helps your situation and best of luck to you.


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      May 16, 2022 @ 5:00 pm Joey

      Hi I’m wondering if anyone got back to you? Did uou purchase the property in the end? Looking forward to hearing from you soon regards Joey 😀


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      September 14, 2022 @ 7:24 am Bob

      I have been trying to contact previous user and housing commission and Sydney council and politicians to no avail
      the old building is still empty, but nobody seems to care to save this historic building in Woolloomooloo, 12 Forbes Street
      nobody gives two hoots


  5. Avatar for Real Estate List Provider

    September 5, 2021 @ 11:30 am President Obama

    I looking for abandoned places buy for free to help poor people that can’t afford it to buy a home and car and job and food and drink


  6. Avatar for Real Estate List Provider

    September 5, 2021 @ 11:58 am President Obama bodyguard

    We got lots of abandoned places in Australia too much of haunted houses and place that people died in 1923 to 2001


  7. Avatar for Real Estate List Provider

    October 7, 2021 @ 5:31 am Casper

    Im a ghost , get the fuck out of my house


  8. Avatar for Real Estate List Provider

    February 20, 2022 @ 9:36 pm Kathy Fowler

    I’m looking for one in Michigan , I would love a project home something I can work on live and at the same time and at some point purchase it


  9. Avatar for Real Estate List Provider

    April 1, 2022 @ 11:30 am Maria Hernandez

    I had lost my house and everything else due to the pandemic i lost my job and i was not able to make the payments i was behind the bank didn’t want to give me a chance to recover my house I had lived for 20 years and they the bank sold it in an auction…I’m a cancer survivor plus been diabetic for more than 25 years worked all my life and now sick with hypertension, hi blood pressure, thyroid decease hypothyroidism, neuropathy, reumatoid arthritis, and the painful degeneration of my bones come to me plus depression, schizophrenic affective disorder, PSTD disorder,as well as anxiety, psychotic suicidal, are taking over myself and body.
    I applied for my disability with social security administration, but they’re taking forever.
    I become homeless since I can’t work like I used to do it. Since it’s been hard enough not to been able to provide for myself I started to live out of the garbage to collect anything I can sell in order to pay for my medications and getting medical attention in the few community clinics that can qualify me for “free” services which is not completely free since I have no income. My credit score is low due to to many medical bills so no hope for me at all to be able to buy a house in the future. Only waiting for my disability to come to my rescue and then use it to put a roof over my head if social security granted it.
    The only solution at this point is to look for an abandoned house and take over the property, then little by little restore whatever needs to be replaced fix all the damages that this house can have and make it my home! I was a home owner ones before, I know it takes hard work and dedication and love lots of love. I always took excellent care of my house, when I had it I double its value just with all the repairs and the remodeling on the patio back yard inside rooms and an upgrade of my kitchen it became my paradise!!! : (


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