Q: I see an abandoned house every day on my way to the clinic. How can I take over and fix it up? I want to eventually take ownership. I’m looking to fix up and live in it. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: You cannot just move in and start working on it. You need to find who owns it, which can often be a challenge. You can look up the deed to see who the listed owner is, you can call the taxing entities-city, school county to see if anyone is paying taxes on it. You can go to the Sheriff’s Office to see if it is under foreclosure or is up for sheriff’s sale. I would first ask your municipal zoning officer. He will likely know the status. It may be on the list to foreclose on for delinquent taxes, or on a list to tear down. You need to do some investigating. Often there is money owed to someone like a bank or a municipality, before you can get clear title.