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Q. How can I trace the owner of an empty home?

  • You could:
  • fasten a notice on the door of the empty property saying that you would like to contact the owner and
  • talk to neighbours and any neighbourhood community groups as well as local shopkeepers who may know the owner.

These methods cost nothing and can often give you valuable information about an empty property.

  • You could contact the planning and building control departments of your local council. If they have dealt with planning applications from the owner, they may be able to help. And they can help you to find any ongoing planning applications by the owner.
  • If the property is in a rural area, you could contact the local parish council. The parish clerk may be able to help.
  • You could contact your local neighbourhood watch group – they might know something about the property. For details of your nearest neighbourhood watch group, contact your local police station.
  • You could search your District Land Registry which has information on all owners of registered land. If you fill in form 313, the details will be sent to you within 48 hours (cost £4). This is a useful way to find the owner’s name, but the address given is often the same as the empty property address.

You can also contact HM Land Registry on www.landreg.gov.uk. If the land is not registered, the Land Registry will not have any information, but you could search the Land Charges Registry (Form K15 – cost £3). This will give you the owner’s details if there are any charges against the property (for example, a second mortgage) or if bankruptcy papers have been filed. Contact Land Charges Registry on 01752 635600.

  • Once you know the owner’s name, you could trace them using a search agency – look in your local Yellow Pages under ‘Detective Agencies’ or contact the Talking Pages. This is often the easiest way to trace an owner, but you will have to pay a fee which can range from about £20 to around £200.
  • If the owner of the empty home has died and the will is disputed, or the heirs do not come forward, the property can sit ‘in limbo’ while the identity of the new owner is established. During this time there will be a question mark over who is responsible for it. If you know the name of the former owner, you could try using a firm of genealogists who specialise in family trees and tracing heirs to wills. Look in the phone book or search the internet for ‘genealogists’. Fees genealogists charge will vary.