NJ Ejection of Family Members

7 Replies

Very long story, but my fiancé and I purchased his parents house (I know, good idea at the time). They were going through financial struggles and wanted to downsize. We wanted to upgrade from our previous house as we are ready to start a family. Anyway to avoid both parties using a realtor and paying taxes, etc, etc, we bought the beautiful house and were in love. However, his parents asked if they could stay a few months until they found another house. We never agreed on a length of time and since the closing, his mother who is mentally unstable has gone crazy. Cops have been called numerous times and they have been asked to leave several times. We finally filed for a writ of possession being that they are not tenants and we have a court date for one month from today. We still are very confused about some things. They are claiming they sold us the house at a good deal and now we owe them money (which was never discussed prior to the closing). With that being said they are refusing to leave and said they have rights to stay. We legally own the house now and all of the bills are in our name. Weve tried to reconcile with them to avoid going to court and paying an attorney but my fiancé does not have a "normal" father/mother/son relationship with them. Anyway, if the ejectment is ruled in our favor our attorney said his parents would have 7 days to leave the premise before we can change the locks. After the 7th day and change of locks, are we allowed to dispose of their personal belongings left behind? I ask because they are hoarders and we know there will be a lot left behind, things of value included. Also, could they sue us for selling the house well under market value, even though they both signed the intial contract and the closing papers knowing the price they were selling it to us for?

Wow, talk about a mess!

First, I don't know exactly how this process works in NJ, so can only speak in general terms.  Great that you have an attorney assisting you with this.  Post your questions to your attorney.

I'm going to ignore the fact this is family. 

You seem to have two issues.  You bought a house and now the seller is claiming the price was too low.  And then the sellers  became tenants, you want them out, and they won't leave.

Can they sue you?  Of course.  Anyone can sue anyone for anything.   Question is, do they have a case they might win?  Impossible to say from what you've written.  Assuming you used an attorney to close the transaction (I think you use attorneys rather than title companies in NJ), it was properly documented and recorded, then you have a legitimate transaction.  If not, then there's a problem.  You say you wanted to avoid paying taxes, which is a red flag to me that maybe the transaction wasn't 100% above board.  If the transaction was done properly, then there might be a question of coercion.  The issue would be, did you convince them to do a transaction they really didn't want to do.  In other words, did you steal their house with a shady transaction?  I'm not actually asking you, just saying this might be the basis of a lawsuit.  An attorney might find other ways to try to unwind the transaction.  But you might think back to what was said and done when you bought this house and be sure everything was above board.  Ideally you would have had an appraisal, done all the proper paperwork, recorded the appropriate documents, and taken out a new loan or paid cash for the property.  The more shortcuts you took in the transaction, the more likely they will prevail in a lawsuit.

Assuming the purchase was legit, now you have tenants.  You want them out and they won't leave.  I assume the NJ process is the same as in other places.  You'll go to court and get a judgement in your favor.  After that, they have a certain time to leave.  If they don't, you do a "set out". That is, under supervision by (usually) the sheriff, you and your workers take all the stuff out of the property and set it outside.  No, you don't get to just keep everything in the house.  You get possession of the property, not the contents.  You have to move the contents outside.  If there is a lot of stuff, you'll need a bunch of helpers.  The sheriff (or whoever supervises setouts in NJ) isn't going to give you days to do this.  Just a few hours.  Once that's done, you change the locks and now you have possession of the property.  What happens to the stuff that you set out is not your problem.  The expectation is the former tenants deal with taking what they want.  I'd be cautious about you taking any of it.

What does your attorney say regarding any property your inlaws leave behind?

Attached is one statute that describes "abandoned" property when a TENANT in your state leaves/is evicted.  It is uncertain if this pertains in your situation since this is not a landlord/tenant relationship (probably a good thing as New Jersey tends to be very landlord friendly).

http://www.state.nj.us/dca/divisions/codes/publications/pdf_lti/dis_remning_pers_proprty.pdf

Gail

@Jon Holdman , Thank you for your reply! Everything about the purchase was legitimate, we used attorneys and a notary provided by the mortgage company. We have a mortgage, didn't pay cash. Essentially it was a "normal" purchase (just so happens it was his parents), we had a CO inspection and appraisal, we just didn't use a realtor. We also have audio recording from before the purchase and text messages in which his parents say, "We can no longer afford this house" and "We want you to buy the house".

As for the belongings, we don't want them. However, as I mentioned they are somewhat of hoarders and we know for a fact a lot of things will be left behind. From what I've gathered, we are able to put the things outside, but as I mentioned they have A LOT of things.  How long do we have to leave it outside before we can get a dumpster and throw they're things away?

This is just such a crazy mess and we are asking our attorney as many questions as we can think of but I figured I would ask people who have been through similar situations. I agree that we should look at them as occupants, not family. Believe me, after this crazy situation I don't know what "family" relationship will be left. From what they've been threatening us, they seem to think they can try to incriminate my fiancé with "theft by deception". But from what I have read about that, my fiancés case doesn't fall into those parameters.

The answers to your questions will never be definitive. You must simply work your way through the process and go where it leads you. There may be twists and turns and you can either do it the simple way or the difficult way. 

To make it as simple and clean as possible as you go through he process never compromise on your goal to get them out. If they ask for any concessions or considerations always say no. If your goal is to get them out do not hesitate or falter to achieve that goal based on the letter of the law.

You are in this mess due to having made emotional decisions, major mistake, do not continue down that path.

What do they want? Do they want to live in the house for free, live there and pay rent, or buy back the house? I can’t tell what they want from your post. This house sounds like a huge disaster and I think it will cause you headaches for years to come. Perhaps consider selling them back the house if they can get a mortgage which could cover all of your costs associated with buying the house plus the cost of the house. This will rid you of the headache. Then go buy another house. Perhaps though since you said they can’t afford the house they may not be able to qualify for a mortgage so this may not work.

If you can’t sell back the house then I would just treat if like you would if it was a stranger and have your lawyer handle it. Do not give them any concessions as the other posted mentioned. Based on what you said it sounds like you have a good chance of legally winning. I don’t think the family relationships can be salvaged though unless you sell them the house and they can afford to buy it.

I had to hold/store the tenants belongings for up to 30 days upon eviction in NJ, so I would ask your attorney before you just toss their belongings out onto the lawn....

Prior to Closing, when the occupants informed you that they wished to temporarily remain in the house (as Tenants), did your attorney prepare a short term Use and Occupancy Agreement, or a Lease for them to sign? They are tenants and should not be in that house without a Lease.

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