Can I take over abandoned property?

There is a piece of property next to my grandfather’s land. There is a small house and some acreage. It has been abandoned for a few years. I called the tax office and they had a difficult time even locating the parcel number. They found that the original go owner passed away last year and the deed had transferred from a loan officer to his wife who is a loan officer in a different state. I’ve tried to get into contact with them but haven’t heard anything. Can I claim the abandoned property? What are the laws regarding this? The lady at the tax office doesn’t understand why a loan officer out of state is the owner. We knew the owner and I just don’t want his property to become more decrepit than it already is.

Asked on September 11, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Based on what you write, you have no legal grounds on which to take this property over. An owner is not obligated to live on premises or even maintain their property (although in such a case, the town or city can step in if warranted). Bottom line, even if you consoder the property to be abandoned, that does not impart any form of owernship rights.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, even if you consider it abandoned, it has a owner, and the law does NOT require her to live there, use the property, or even take care of it to maintain her ownership: neglectful owners, absentee owners, etc. are legal. You cannot take over the property.

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