I purchased a REO property at 3rd party auction knowing that the previous owners were living in the property. This house was foreclosed on in August of 2013.
I've driven the property several times just to get in contact with the occupants.
1) They are never home.
2) When they are home (usually at night, lights are on) they don't come to the door.
The last time I was there I left a letter on the door stating I was the new owner, and I would love to work with them and hear what their plans are..... please contact me at this number.
What is my next step ?
Can I legally start the eviction process ?
Short answer is YES. You have made a reasonable attempt to contact them and they are either in denial or willfully stealing time in the house as a trespasser.
I suggest you get with a local eviction attorney and see what options you have. The faster you move on this the less it will cost you. Who knows what they are doing on the inside - damage wise - and look at all the lost time and $$ they are costing you. Call today.
Thanks for the response. Everything that I am reading about eviction is regarding the typical Landlord/tenant situation.
I'm wondering if legally this is a different situation altogether.
I certainly don't mind paying an attorney, but don't want to walk into a conversation with an attorney blindly.
Most attorneys that handle evictions have been in this situation before. Your situation is similar to a tenant moving out and boyfriend staying behind with no lease. If you are a member of your local investor / landlord group ask one of them. If not, find out what day eviction court is and show up. There will be several attorneys doing evictions. Just listen to a few and grab one you like when they leave court.
If you can prove that the only occupants are the previous owners you can file a motion for a writ of possession without going through a full eviction. If they are "tenants" with a lease you'll have to honor the lease, if they're "tenants" without a lease you have to give them 90 notice prior to removing them. I'd use an attorney, it's worth the price in a situation like this.