How to find someone who moved recently?
March 7, 2007 8:49 PM   Subscribe

Our landlords-to-be have moved out of state, and didn't give us a forwarding address---how do we find them?

In late January, my partner and I signed a lease for a house across town here in Pittsburgh, to move in in April. The owners---a couple in their 50s or so---told us at the time that they'd be moving to land they bought recently in West Virginia, about March 1.

We've been out of town this weekend on vacation, but haven't received any voice mails or e-mail, and don't appear to have received any mail from them. This evening, my partner tried to call them to arrange for the key transfer and so on---and their phone has been disconnected.

We're not out a whole lot of money if they have disappeared---only a $250 deposit. However, we sincerely believe that they simply forgot to give us their new address and phone number. But how do we get it now?

I've tried searching on Google and for both their names---his is so uncommon that the only Google results for his name as a phrase are links to Vioxx settlement papers, and there isn't a single person listed in with his name in the entire state of West Virginia. And his wife shares a name with a fairly prominent local philanthropist (and, somewhat ironically, a major local real-estate agency).

Is there going to be any way to find these people, short of a private investigator? If we try calling the local utility companies, will they be willing/able to give us their forwarding address? How would you go about trying to find someone who just moved?
posted by FlyingMonkey to Human Relations (16 answers total)
Try sending (postal) mail? There's a good chance they filed a change-of-address form with the Post Office, if this was really an innocent mistake. I don't know if the USPO will give you a forwarding address on request (I rather doubt it), but they will forward your mail.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:54 PM on March 7, 2007

As a last resort, if you don't get the key transfer by April 1 and you do, in fact, have a lease and all could just hire a locksmith. But it would certainly be better to try the forwarded mail route first. Perhaps they were planning to courier you everything and they are busy moving.
posted by acoutu at 8:57 PM on March 7, 2007

Is it possible they just didn't pay their phone bill-or turned their land line off early?

Go drive by their home.
posted by konolia at 9:02 PM on March 7, 2007

It may be too early, but I've tracked people down using
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:20 PM on March 7, 2007

konolia---they told us they were planning to move March 1. in fact, they offered to let us move in march (but our current lease is through Apr 30, and we didn't want to pay two months' double rent.)
posted by FlyingMonkey at 9:56 PM on March 7, 2007

If you paid the deposit with a check, you should be able to find out what their bank is. If you go to the bank and explain what's going on, and take the cancelled check with you, they mght be willing to help you.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:57 PM on March 7, 2007

When you don't pay their rent, they'll soon call up.
posted by wackybrit at 11:44 PM on March 7, 2007

This may be useful if the post office knows.
posted by alexei at 12:51 AM on March 8, 2007

Depending on the neighborhood--go by, ask their neighbors?
posted by anaelith at 5:33 AM on March 8, 2007

Did you try calling directory assistance in West Virginia (304-555-1212)? and other alternative providers usually do batch updates and may not have the latest information.
posted by backupjesus at 6:11 AM on March 8, 2007

Send them a letter with Address Service Requested.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:28 AM on March 8, 2007

Okay, if you want to go the super stalky-creepy route, this might be an option for you:

If you know approximately where they moved to (greater precision than "West Virginia"), you can try to look them up in the county's property assessment webpage. Allegheny county has one, for example, and it'll tell you where someone lives and all about the property that they own. Find out where your professors live! Hem. Just search for "countyname county property (assessment)" and it'll pop up if it exists.
posted by that girl at 8:28 AM on March 8, 2007

@that girl---unfortunately (a) we don't know where in WV they were moving, and (b) half the counties down there don't seem to have websites at all, and the ones we found websites for don't seem to have an assessor's page, certainly not like Allegheny's.

One county's "assessor's website" was a one-sentence description of the possession, the address of the office, and the name of the person currently in that office. . . .

@backupjesus---would 411 have them already, a week after they moved?

Also, if they do, would they be able to tell if an address was a recent addition? There are apparently already dozens of Wife's Names in the state, according to some online whitepages search my partner did. . . .

I'm definitely leaning towards alexei and robert angelo's suggestions of sending them a letter and seeing how it bounces. . .
posted by FlyingMonkey at 9:18 AM on March 8, 2007

Several years ago I went to the post office, filled out a form and for $1 the post office gave me the forwarding address. You have to go to the PO that served their old addres.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:35 AM on March 8, 2007

FlyingMonkey, FWIW directory assistance had my new phone number the day after it was activated when I moved last year. (Someone called DA to get my number, and we were both impressed by the speediness of the update.) still does not list my new number after 11 months.
posted by backupjesus at 10:40 AM on March 8, 2007

According to the monkeyette, a postal worker she talked to on the phone claimed that it was not possible to get the address directly from the post office.

However, he also suggested sending them a letter certified-mail with a return receipt, which will indicate to what address the mail was eventually delivered to, so that's what we're going to do.

Thanks to all for your suggestions!
posted by FlyingMonkey at 8:50 PM on March 9, 2007

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