A major report published by Anglia Research reveals a considerable amount of uncertainty, inconsistency and questionable practice amongst local authorities using probate researchers (or 'tracing agents'). For empty homes practitioners seeking to use tracing agents to locate missing owners, the report highlights some of the risks involved and the need for due diligence and robust procedures to control those risks. It warrants close reading.
The raw evidence on which the report is based consists of responses to a series of Freedom of Information requests sent to local authorities by solicitor Carolyn Lord, Commercial and Compliance Director at Anglia, . These were originally focused on the use of tracing agents in the context of public health funerals, but later rounds of requests also enquired about local authority use of tracing agents for empty homes
The research involved more than data collection, however: it also drew on the opinions of barristers into the appropriateness, legality, etc of various positions and practices adopted by local authorities.