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If you need somewhere now, don't worry too much about finding out who owns the place before you occupy it - just go for it. Otherwise, or once you're in, it can be useful to know. Keep all letters, especially for previous tenants as these can give you some idea who the place belongs to and why the previous tenants left. All this information may help you stay longer in your home if your case comes to court.

An Estate Agent sign will probably mean it is privately owned. The local authority Planning Department keeps records of all planning applications for each address in its borough. These records are for public scrutiny and usually arranged in alphabetical order by street or block name. Each application will have the applicant's name i.e. the owner or property agent.

Her Majesty's Land Registry keeps an open register of ownership of properties that you can consult for £5. You will need Form 313 which you can get from local libraries, CABx etc. or call the main office on 020 7917 8888. Often the best way to find out who owns a property is to ask local people such as trustworthy neighbours.

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