An abandoned house in your neighborhood is both an eyesore and a safety hazard. For some, an abandoned house could be an attractive investment opportunity. Whatever your reason, discovering the identity of the property owner requires a search of public records.
Search property records kept by the real estate assessor's office or the property assessment office in the locality where the house is located. Many localities have made these records available online. Search by address to find the property record, which will include the name of the current owner. The property records will also include the owner's mailing address, which you can use to contact them. Visit the office in person if records are not available online.
Search for deeds in the circuit court where the property is located to verify the information you obtained from the assessor. Visit the clerk's office to conduct your search, as deeds are not typically searchable online without paying a fee. Search by name to locate a copy of the deed for the abandoned property you are researching. This search will also turn up other properties the individual owns in that jurisdiction.
Deed records are also maintained by the local recorder's or comptroller's office.
Continue your search if the house you are searching is owned by a business entity such as a limited liability corporation or limited partnership. This may be the case if the owner is holding the abandoned house as an investment. The business name will appear on the deed or the property records obtained from the previous steps.
Visit the website of the State Corporation Commission where the property is located and conduct an entity search using the business name. The record will identity the registered agent of the business, which in many cases is the owner. It could also be an attorney for the owner. The record will include an address and phone number for the agent. Contact the agent and make an inquiry.
- City of Richmond - Property Search
- Clark County - Recorder's Office
- Nassau County Circuit Court - Official Records
- Virginia State Corporation Commission
- University of Kansas. "Community Toolbox: Using Public Records and Archival Data." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.
- American Title Associates Agency, Inc. "FAQs." Accessed Jan. 15, 2020.
Currently living in Austin, Texas, Alexander Harris is a business journalist covering the self storage industry for SpareFoot.com and SelfStorage.com. Harris previously wrote daily news for RichmondBizSense.com, a business journal in his hometown of Richmond, Va. His work has appeared in various other publications including "Philadelphia Citypaper," Stateline.org, "RVA Magazine" and the "Virginian-Pilot." Harris holds a mass communications degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.