Home / Conveyancing / Blog / Vacant Possession Law UK: What It Means And How It Affects Your Property

Vacant Possession Law UK: What It Means And How It Affects Your Property

What is the vacant possession

When purchasing a home in the UK, it is not uncommon to make an offer contingent on the seller vacating the property. This means that if you purchase the property, the seller is required to move out of it and give up possession of it before you take ownership. In some cases, this can be required by law.

This blog will help you understand what vacant possession law is and how it affects your property.

What is the vacant possession law in the UK?

If the property that you are purchasing has been empty for less than 12 months (or more than 12 months if a condition of sale has been met), then you must vacate the property before you take ownership. It is a legal requirement and, if you do not do this, it will invalidate the purchase contract.

This is a simple law to understand, but it also creates complications and headaches when you first take possession. Many people in the UK think that by buying a property and then vacating the home within a few months, the transaction will be void. However, as long as the property was empty for less than 12 months before the sale was completed, the purchase contract will be considered valid. It is important that you make the mortgage lender aware of the conditions that you agreed when taking on a

Why is vacant possession important?

The right to have the property vacated is a legal requirement which makes it easier for the buyer to settle the purchase without having to try to enforce possession.

Many sellers are reluctant to vacate a property because they think they will not be able to rent it out if they sell it.

Also, many sellers are unable to afford the fees and costs to vacate the property. They therefore choose not to sell it, but this means they also keep the security deposit.

You must vacate the property before you take possession.

Under section 99 of the Land Registration Act 1925, all property which is left vacant after 31 December of the year in which you purchase the property is required to be vacated by the end of the following year.

The property you are purchasing has to be left vacant for a minimum period.

When does the law require vacant possession?

Vacant possession is the law which requires a person to vacate the property they own and cease all occupation before someone else takes ownership. As such, the property must be put up for sale, and the buyers must be able to apply for a mortgage.

Vacant possession law can differ between local authorities. Although some places have the same laws, it is important to check with the local authority to find out how the law applies to your property.

Types of Vacant Possession

There are two types of vacant possession laws in the UK, but there are also quite a few variations between different local authorities:

1. Time-limited Vacancy

In time-limited vacancy laws, the property is owned by the law, and anyone who buys it may need to vacate it at the completion of the applicable period. The law

How does the law affect your home buying experience

Under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, a buyer can only make an offer contingent on vacating a property in specific circumstances.

If the seller agrees to sell the property, it must be advertised for three months. If there is no sale, the sale can be contingent upon a number of conditions. These conditions include:

If there is a search being carried out for residential landlord and tenant information, the seller must let a form of written notice of vacating be on the property for a period of one week.

If a proposed party for the sale is not found in the specified time, the property must then be offered to the next purchaser. If the next purchaser is found in a suitable time frame, the condition to vacate may be removed.


Having made the decision to purchase a property, it is likely that there will be some work to be done before the property is handed over to you. Depending on the state the property is in and what the condition of the premises is, it could be necessary for the landlord to vacate the property before you can take ownership.

Understanding the difference between possession and occupier is vital in ensuring that you do not end up getting ripped off by the seller or feeling like you have been cheated out of your deposit. It will make things much clearer when the time comes.

Posted by on 28/07/2021 in Vacant possession

Ready to get a quote?