Who owns an abandoned house?

What to Do About an Abandoned Home

Having a home demolished can take awhile.
Having a home demolished can take awhile.

If there's an abandoned house in your neighborhood, you can file a code violation complaint with the code enforcement office in your city or county. In some places, you can file the complaint online, or you can call the office to file a report. Search for your city or county's contact information online.

Once you file the complaint, a code enforcement officer will seek out the property owner. If he or she can't find the owner, you might be stuck with the abandoned structure even longer. The house will remain abandoned until the government can seize it for back taxes.

If the home is in foreclosure, it might take a while to figure out which bank is responsible for the property. Even if the person or entity responsible for the house is tracked down, there's no guarantee that the property will be demolished. If the home is put up for auction, it will be up to the new owner to decide what to do with the house.

Although the process of getting the government to take action on an abandoned house might be frustrating and time consuming, it's important to be persistent. Keep records of your correspondence and get your neighbors involved as well. The more people that speak out, the better chance you'll have of being heard and protecting your neighborhood.

Related Articles


  • "Foreclosure Activity Hits Record High in Third Quarter." Realty Track. Oct. 15, 2009.http://www.realtytrac.com/foreclosure/foreclosure-rates.html
  • Hirshon, Nicholas. "Homes abandoned via foreclosures becoming havens for crime, says study." NY Daily News. March 6, 2009.http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/queens/2009/03/05/2009-03-05_homes_abandoned_via_foreclosures_becomin.html
  • Kellogg, Alex B. "Detroit Shrinks Itself, Historic Homes and All." Wall Street Journal. May 13, 2010.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703950804575242433435338728.htmlMunford,
  • John. "Abandoned homes pose problem for Fayette." The Citizen. March 9, 2010.http://www.thecitizen.com/articles/03-09-2010/abandoned-homes-pose-problem-fayette
  • Savage, Jessica. "Abandoned homes are sore spot for county." The Caller. Sep. 11, 2010.http://www.caller.com/news/2010/sep/11/abandoned-homes-a-sore-spot-for-the-county/
  • Zarolli, Jim. "Abandoned Houses Invite Crime in Minneapolis." NPR. June 12, 2008.http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91400652