Clearance of property prior to Enforced Sale


We are about to send a property to auction that we are enforcing sale on. However the property is full of junk and rubbish from both the previous owner and through having been used by squatters etc.

We would like to clear the property prior to going to auction and are wondering if there are any legislatative mechanisms that would allow us to clear and dispose of the items? In  addition, would we be able to reclaim any of the costs associated with doing this?

The owner has been unwilling to engage throughout the whole process and has previously stated that he is unwilling to re-enter the property. Having lived elsewhere for over 10 years I imagine that there is little in the way of personal effects that he would want.



Enforced Sale

Hi Adrian,

I've arranged clearance previously using the council's own relevant department, the cost of which was deducted from the proceeds of sale.  I only arranged enough clearance for the property to be adequately viewed (which was what the auctioneer deemed to be necessary). 

If you've given adequate notice to the owner & reasonable time to remove any items they want from the property prior to sale with warning that anything remaining will be disposed of, there is no issue with removing as many items from the property as you see fit.  It's their choice whether or not to take the opportunity ultimately. 


Hi Adrian

When I worked there I'm sure we used Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) 1982 s41.


Sue Li

Compulsory Purchase and Enforcement Officer

Derby City Council

Hi All,

Further to the above, we have a property where Probate hasnt been applied for and, in fact, wont be. There is some family we have traced but they are unable/unwilling to take on the Probate. We are looking to use HHSRS to eventually do an Enforced Sale.. Unfortunately, there are belongings in the property and  we do need to do a clearance, My question is, as there is in effect, no "owner" as the property is in a state of limbo - seemingly the belongings within are also ownerless. Legally speaking, would it be ok to dispose of the belongings as in a normal clearance or do we need to write to the Crown (Duchy of Lancaster) first to obtain permission.

Any advice would be apperciated.   


Stephen Bennett

Empty Homes Officer (Preston City Council) 

Hello Stephen

As discussed, Duchy probably unlikely to be interested as there are surviving family. In the ordinary run of things, the estate of the deceased property owner would ultimately be regarded as the owner of the contents of the property owned by the deceased during lifetime.

We have cleared a number of properties prior to enforced sale.  We only clear that which requires clearance.

To my knowledge, once the council has served notice of possession, it can then enter the property as mortgagee in possession to carry out works such as clearance, without the need for service of other notices.

Costs are then recovered from the proceeds of sale along with other land charge costs.


Terry Curnow

Liverpool City Council


Ive previously served A TORT Notice which is a legal document which can be served to the owner of an item which is left abandoned on private land. The Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 allows landlords to sell or dispose of goods, if reasonable efforts to trace the owner fail.

i displayed in the window of the property providing them with 28 days to contact the office then all items were disposed of.



Helen Stevens

Empty Property Officer

Arun District Council