How to deal with vacant but not abandoned property?

9 Replies

I purchased a foreclosed property whose owner is in prison pending multiple felony charges. It doesn't look like she will be bailed out and the property is currently vacant. I drove by a bunch of times and the electricity is off and nobody is living there. However, there is a fairly new car parked in the driveway that doesn't appear to have been moved in a month or more. The property was in both the owner and her ex-husband's name as was the foreclosed loan, but it appears he hasn't lived there since they divorced years ago.

How would you guys approach this? Try to contact the owner's attorney and offer them money? Contact the ex-husband whose name was on the deed and negotiate with him? Can I just do a 3 day notice, change the locks and take possession? This is in California.

Thanks!

Updated 10 months ago

Forgot to mention the windows have been boarded shut by the bank. However somebody(possibly a neighbor?) have been cleaning up the driveway of newspapers and such. It's in a really nice neighborhood.

If it were my house, I would just go there and take possession. You say you've already bought the house. If there's no one in the house (or even if there's a squatter in there), I would move forward. Hire someone else to do it if you're afraid of meeting up with a person - hire a locksmith to change all the locks. Or a security firm. 

Originally posted by @JD Martin :

If it were my house, I would just go there and take possession. You say you've already bought the house. If there's no one in the house (or even if there's a squatter in there), I would move forward. Hire someone else to do it if you're afraid of meeting up with a person - hire a locksmith to change all the locks. Or a security firm. 

 Can I legally do that in California? I thought you had to go through the eviction process for foreclosed properties, I've always just done cash4keys.

This is a trustee's sale.

Originally posted by @Nancy Zhao :
Originally posted by @Jd Martin:

If it were my house, I would just go there and take possession. You say you've already bought the house. If there's no one in the house (or even if there's a squatter in there), I would move forward. Hire someone else to do it if you're afraid of meeting up with a person - hire a locksmith to change all the locks. Or a security firm. 

 Can I legally do that in California? I thought you had to go through the eviction process for foreclosed properties, I've always just done cash4keys.

This is a trustee's sale.

 There's not electricity, according to you, and a vehicle that hasn't moved in a long time. Sounds like an abandoned house to me. Obviously, if you're unsure what you should do, then you should speak to an attorney. I'm just saying what I would do if I just bought a house at foreclosure. Especially one that appeared abandoned. 

I am a California real estate attorney and real estate broker.  Unfortunately, the property is in California, a very tenant-friendly state, and it is not that easy.  Please check out this advisory from the California Apartment Association, which provides one of the best summaries of California laws on abandonment:

CAA Abandonment of Real and Personal Property

@Nancy Zhao

If you are the legal owner, and nobody is living in the house, call a locksmith to change the lock and secure the building ASAP, before someone get in there.

The car could be simply from a neighbor, parking for free over there.

Talk to a neighbor if you can to find out what is going on. If nobody claims the car, post a note and then have it towed.

You have a TDUS (Trustee's deed upon sale) and confirmation that its vacant. That should be sufficient for you to take possession and enter the home. I'm not an attorney but this is my profession. I'm a lender. If I foreclosed and upon inspection, was reasonably able to state that it did not appear to be inhabited, I would be able to defend my action in court if it ever came to that. Your actions are not malicious in nature, you aren't shutting off electricity/gas. You aren't performing any "self help" eviction so , go change the locks, have the vehicle towed and start your new journey as a homeowner.

OK, I posted and mailed the former owner a 3 day notice and a notice of abandonment. The utilities are still off and I have repeatedly visited the property at all hours and nobody's ever been home. Tomorrow the three days are up and I'm going to just get a locksmith and take possession.

Fingers crossed, thank all you guys for your help!

Call the police. They will red tag the vehicle, and if it isn’t moved in two days, they will tow it.

Had I bought this house, I would have found a way inside within an hour after closing. Well, OK. Maybe not an hour. More like 15 minutes because I would have been stalking it and plotting a way in the entire time I was in contract. Aren't you dying to know what's in there? If the previous occupant is in prison, there is no telling what you might find, and who is going to "catch" you? Everyone knows that bank-owned properties are like discarded cell phones. I am so jealous, and am going to start looking for places that have been foreclosed because the owner is in prison. This is the kind of stuff that makes me love real estate. It's like a treasure hunt, or a episode of Storage Wars, but better because you don't have to compete with all of those other obnoxious buyers. Let us know what you find in there :-)

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