How to Find Abandoned Houses to Buy: Australia 2023 Guide

how to find abandoned houses to buy

Purchasing abandoned houses may not be that common, but it is a possibility. But how to find abandoned houses to buy in Australia? This guide will give you more details about how you can do that, and what criteria you should meet to become an owner of an abandoned house.
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What Is an Abandoned House?

Usually, a house is seen as abandoned if:

  • People aren’t sure about the last owner’s whereabouts
  • There’s piled-up mail on the doorstep or in the mailbox
  • The place looks dusty and run down
  • There are no personal items out in the front
  • Neighbors cannot remember when they’ve last seen the owner

Vacant vs Abandoned Houses in Australia – What’s the Difference?

Many people confuse the two terms. There are several differences, but here’s the biggest one:

  • A vacant home has a rightful owner who claims rights over it.
  • Abandoned homes usually don’t have an owner, or the owner gave up their rights over the property.

Other differences between vacant homes and abandoned properties:

  • Vacant houses are usually unoccupied for a short period of time, while abandoned homes are typically left empty for an extended period
  • Vacant properties are often well-maintained and in good condition, while abandoned homes may look damaged and run down.

How to Find Abandoned Houses to Buy?

To find and buy an abandoned house, you can try some of the following methods:

  • Get familiar with the area – drive through it, explore it, and see if there are any signs that the house is abandoned.
  • Ask around – you can ask the local mailman or next-door neighbors if they’ve last seen the homeowners.
  • Contact the county clerk – the administration has records of property owners in the local area, so you might be able to find the owner’s details on short notice.
  • Contact a property lawyer – that way, you’ll be aware of your rights and where you stand legally.
  • Contact local banks – the house could be under foreclosure.

To learn more about housing market in Australia, read this insightful article.

Claiming Abandoned Property in Australia

You can claim an abandoned property in Australia, but there are certain criteria that you need to meet:

  • You’ve been living on a property using squatters’ rights (adverse possession)
  • You have proof that you’ve tried contacting the owner, but were unable to
  • Prove that you mean to possess the property (planting crops and trees, leasing it to others, etc.).
  • You’ve made improvements on the property, including renovation and fencing.

Once your property meets all requirements, it is time to furnish it. Here are some articles to help you out:
Best sofa beds in Australia
Best mattress in a box in Australia

Adverse Possession

Claiming rights over abandoned houses in Australia is possible if you’ve been living in such property under the rule of adverse possession. You’ll have to prove you’ve lived there 12-15 years continuously (15 in South Australia and Victoria, 12 in the rest of the country).

If the rightful owner of the property comes back, they are allowed to evict and sue you. However, if they fail to do it over the course of 12 (or 15) years, they will lose the trial, and the place will be rightfully yours.

Certain properties are excluded from the rule of adverse possession:

  • Crown land
  • Public transport corporation owned land
  • Water authority-owned land
  • Roads corporation-owned land.

Is It Illegal to Go Into an Abandoned House?

If a property is vacant, entering it without the owner’s permission is considered trespassing and therefore, illegal. On the other hand, an abandoned property has no rightful owner; you can go inside without anyone’s permission.

If you want to be on the right side of the law, you can contact the local police and explain your intentions. That way, you might even learn something about the homeowners, and whether the house is vacant or abandoned.

Note: If you’re planning on entering an abandoned property, watch out for any safety hazards. Abandoned houses can have damage and be unsafe to occupy.

Abandoned Houses in Australia for Sale

How can you buy an abandoned house if you can’t find or contact the owner? The safest bet would be making a trip to the county clerk, where you might find the rightful owner’s contact information. Even if you cannot contact them, it’s worth the try.

If you discover the property is owned by a bank, you might be able to purchase it at a real estate auction. However, before doing that, make sure that the place is worth your money. The property itself might not cost that much, but it might need underpinning, renovations, or repairments, which might cost you a lot. Also, don’t forget to check out the neighborhood the property is located in.

Are There Free Houses in Australia?

Believe it or not, there are people in Australia who offer to give you a house free of cost. But what’s the catch? 

These people offer you a free house, but not the land it sits on. This is usually the case with prefabricated homes. They are sometimes given away for free; all future owners need to do is cover the cost of the house’s removal from the land. 

Essentially, you’d only pay for moving a free house to a location that is rightfully yours. However, tempting as the offer may be, it also comes with a risk. For instance, the house might have significant damage or suffer damage during transportation. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to take the risk, you might end up with a decent free house.

Bottom Line 

Although not that common, buying abandoned houses in Australia is possible. But how to find abandoned houses to buy? Explore different areas, ask around about a seemingly-abandoned property’s rightful owner, and contact the county clerk or authorities to get more information about the property. You might find just what you’re looking for, and you might get to keep it.


1. How do you get into abandoned houses?

If you’re 100% certain that a house is abandoned, you can go inside without facing any legal charges. However, if you enter a vacant property owned by someone, that’s considered trespassing. To find out if you can enter a property you think is abandoned, it’s best to consult with the local police, just to be safe.

2. How do I find out who owns an empty property?

The best way to find out if an empty property is abandoned or has an owner is by visiting the local county clerk’s office. Usually, knowing the right address is enough to get you information about the property’s owner.

3. How do I find abandoned property in my area?

If you want to know how to find abandoned houses to buy in your area, you can always explore it and ask around the neighborhood about any homes that look like no one’s occupying them. You can also make a quick stop at your county clerk’s office.

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