Newly released research by property developer, StripeHomes, has revealed that there are currently thousands of unclaimed properties lying vacant across England and Wales.
The firm's data shows 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, that’s £1.744bn worth of property lying vacant.
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.
Unclaimed estates are essentially the assets left when someone passes away without a will in place. The term may evoke imagery of impressive country manners set in acres of sprawling grounds and in some case, this might be true. However, it can include everything from multi-million-pound mansions to a one-bedroom terraced.
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, commented:
"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.”