Eviction & Writ of Restitution Question

10 Replies

Hello BP, have a strange eviction situation question! On May 31st we evicted some renters through the courts. The judge gave them 48 hours to vacate. They chose not to vacate the property so we ultimately had to request a Writ of Restitution. The judge granted the writ to us on Monday June 4th. Upon filing with the Sheriff to execute the writ I was told they are 15 days out until they would be able to get to the property. While waiting for the sheriff the renters agreed to voluntarily vacate (cash for keys). The renters used my backyard as a small junk yard so it has vehicles, motors, tools etc.....

Once they moved everything they wanted out of the home, they turned over the keys and I gave them $200 and we changed the locks. The problem is that we only got them out of the house and secured the house. Now, I have a giant junk yard to clean up outside of the house. Where this gets very sticky is there are tools outside, vehicle motors, an actual broken down car etc.... TONS of stuff. 

On the day the keys were handed over to me. The renter and I signed an agreement between the two of us stating that the renter voluntarily handed over the keys, the renter was given adequate time to move out of the home, it also states that we agreed to allow them 48 hours to get the rest of the garbage, junk, tools etc....from the outside of the home. They loaded several trucks worth of stuff during that time. Our agreement also states that after the 48 hours I will be removing the items at the expense of the renter. Both tenant and landlord signed this agreement. 

My question is, what the heck do I do with all this junk? Technically, we didn't complete the Writ of Restitution order because the tenant voluntarily vacated the home. In this instance, do I store this stuff, have a yard sale, throw it away etc....? Tenant verbally told me they don't want anything else at the home but since that time (June 7th) I have been unable to contact them and I don't know where they moved to. The sheriff somewhat told me I'm on my own because we didn't wait for the Sheriff do execute the writ, which wouldn't make any sense being they voluntarily vacated the home. 

How should I proceed in removing this junk? We also have a city code ordinance violation indicating that I must clean this property up or they will place a lien on my home. I have a roll off coming tomorrow to start throwing away trash but not sure what to do with the tools, car etc....

Any advice or help would be appreciated. I have contacted my attorney but he is also out several days so I'm stuck!

Why did you offer cash for keys when the eviction was so close anyway? When I've had to evict, even if the tenants left before the eviction, I still carried the eviction out with the Sheriff.

At this point you're going to need to look up your local county rental laws on this situation. Or call a local eviction attorney (who is available right now) who might be willing to give a few minutes of free advice on the phone. Just start calling around and researching.

I am NOT an attorney, but from reading your post it sounds like they voluntarily abandoned the items.  Regarding the cars, could you perhaps donate them to a charitable foundation?  I just evicted a tenant and they had x hours to remove all their belongings.  Anything that remained we simply placed in the dumpster.  To reiterate, I’m not an attorney.  Best of luck!

Originally posted by @Nicole A. :

Why did you offer cash for keys when the eviction was so close anyway? When I've had to evict, even if the tenants left before the eviction, I still carried the eviction out with the Sheriff.

At this point you're going to need to look up your local county rental laws on this situation. Or call a local eviction attorney (who is available right now) who might be willing to give a few minutes of free advice on the phone. Just start calling around and researching.

Thanks Nicole, the reason I did this is because a writ of restitution and an eviction are not the same thing. You can fully evict people with no writ in place whatsoever. The writ is in the event the tenants do not move AFTER eviction. The tenants were already EVICTED through the courts. The writ was filed after they refused to leave. While waiting for the sheriff for 15 days, the renters voluntarily moved. Cash for keys is a far better option than allowing the renters to destroy your home for an additional 15 days. 

Also, on a writ of restitution, the sheriff only removes the tenants from inside of the home. They have nothing to do with the property once it's moved outside, which would be completely worthless in my situation because the tenants were already removed from the home.  

Yeah, I know what you mean. Same in the Baltimore area. Even though the landlord is awarded judgement and the tenant is supposed to leave, they never do. You basically always have to wait for the writ (or warrant of restitution as they call it around here).

While the Sheriff is not there to remove items for you, he enforces the eviction and ensures the tenants leave the property. This is very worthwhile. You have the law on your side. They're not there to be your moving guy. They're simply there to enforce the eviction, and you have it documented (rather than some hand-written agreement on the side with your tenants that could easily be disputed if your tenants really wanted to).

When going through an eviction, you should get to know all the steps ahead of time so that you're prepared. Have you been able to find any info online when Googling your county rental laws? There's usually a procedure to handling abandoned items or it can come back to bite you.

And I could be wrong, but I doubt the tenants would do any further damage than already done in an extra 15 days. Always staying friendly, but firm and business-like tends to assist quite well in tenants not intentionally destroying the place (more).

Yea. We typically have a few evictions per year and the pattern has been consistent for the past 10 years or so. Very familiar with our evictions laws here in Colorado. You are correct, while having the sheriff there, they do, "supervise" that all belongings are moved out of the home to the yard. However, once the belongings are moved to the yard, the tenants are typically given a time period (I believe 24 hours) to remove everything from the yard. Very familiar with the rental laws in our state. My question was, does anyone have any advice on how to remove these belongings (other than simply taking bids). A lot of it is scrap metal so we've made an arrangement with a scrap metal company to bring us a bin to throw it in. As for the rest of it, mostly trash will go in the roll-off or roll-off's plural. As for removing abandoned items. In Colorado if you have a writ enforced, there is no obligation to store or do anything with abandoned property. However, because I didn't fully allow the sheriff the time to supervise anything (because the tenants were already out of the home) the writ is pretty much worthless and doesn't serve a purpose in this scenario. What we've done is managed to get a hold of the tenant and scheduled a time for him to pick up the remaining belongings he would like. We have also drafted up an agreement that all parties will sign, in which he (tenant) indicated that he no longer wants anything on the property and I/we may dispose of it anyway we see fit. Attorney, sheriff & tenant said, "cool".........so I'm hoping problems solved and we can move on and get a new renter in place quickly after the cleanup!  


Originally posted by @Nicole A. :

Yeah, I know what you mean. Same in the Baltimore area. Even though the landlord is awarded judgement and the tenant is supposed to leave, they never do. You basically always have to wait for the writ (or warrant of restitution as they call it around here).

While the Sheriff is not there to remove items for you, he enforces the eviction and ensures the tenants leave the property. This is very worthwhile. You have the law on your side. They're not there to be your moving guy. They're simply there to enforce the eviction, and you have it documented (rather than some hand-written agreement on the side with your tenants that could easily be disputed if your tenants really wanted to).

When going through an eviction, you should get to know all the steps ahead of time so that you're prepared. Have you been able to find any info online when Googling your county rental laws? There's usually a procedure to handling abandoned items or it can come back to bite you.

And I could be wrong, but I doubt the tenants would do any further damage than already done in an extra 15 days. Always staying friendly, but firm and business-like tends to assist quite well in tenants not intentionally destroying the place (more).

You should have stuck with the legal process instead of paying the tenants to move out. You basically taught them that they can violate the contract, ignore the court, and still get paid while leaving you with a stinking mess.

I've said it a hundred times: cash for keys is for the desperate and confused. It rewards bad behavior and makes you look weak, which typically results in the Tenants abusing you a little more on the way out the door. In your case, you thought you could offer some cash and they would suddenly play nice, move out, and leave you with some light dusting and an unflushed toilet. Surprise!

My recommendation? Stop trying to take shortcuts and stumbling your way through this. Stop getting advice from a bunch of strangers on BP that don't know all the facts or your state law. Hire an attorney and follow their advice to ensure you do this legally. You need to close the door on this expensive education.

Explain this to me. Had we waited the 15 days until the Sheriff could get there, the sheriff shows up and the tenants are gone and everything is exactly the way it currently stands all over the yard........what are you going to do at that point? You basically just wasted 15 days to be in the exact same position with the exact same delimma of how to cost effectively dispose of the garbage.

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :

You should have stuck with the legal process instead of paying the tenants to move out. You basically taught them that they can violate the contract, ignore the court, and still get paid while leaving you with a stinking mess.

I've said it a hundred times: cash for keys is for the desperate and confused. It rewards bad behavior and makes you look weak, which typically results in the Tenants abusing you a little more on the way out the door. In your case, you thought you could offer some cash and they would suddenly play nice, move out, and leave you with some light dusting and an unflushed toilet. Surprise!

My recommendation? Stop trying to take shortcuts and stumbling your way through this. Stop getting advice from a bunch of strangers on BP that don't know all the facts or your state law. Hire an attorney and follow their advice to ensure you do this legally. You need to close the door on this expensive education.

@Jake Oreskovich you claim the tenants are agreeing to remove the rest of the stuff. I highly doubt they will. But if they do, then that would be evidence that they would have removed them during the additional 15 days.

At a minimum, you would gain three things by waiting on the Sheriff:

1. Verification from the Sheriff that anything left behind is abandoned and could be disposed of as you see fit;

2. Peace of mind regarding how to move forward;

3. An extra $200 in your pocket that could be applied towards cleanup.

Just one guy's opinion.

Well, this sounds good.......in theory. However, it's not really the way this works. 

1) The Sheriff is not allowed nor would they make that distinction (abandoned property) int his situation. Once property is moved from inside of the home to the outside of the home.....sheriff is gone and could care less about what happens from there. There's much more to the abandoned property thing than a sheriff simply saying, "yep, it's abandoned". 

2) The cost for the Sheriff to execute a writ of restitution is $219, not to mention the 15 days waiting or him/her to decide to head over there when they have time. 

3) Wouldn't do much for peace of mind because we would literally be in the exact same situation.........except my way I saved $19 and possibly 15 days of time. 

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :

@Jake Oreskovich you claim the tenants are agreeing to remove the rest of the stuff. I highly doubt they will. But if they do, then that would be evidence that they would have removed them during the additional 15 days.

At a minimum, you would gain three things by waiting on the Sheriff:

1. Verification from the Sheriff that anything left behind is abandoned and could be disposed of as you see fit;

2. Peace of mind regarding how to move forward;

3. An extra $200 in your pocket that could be applied towards cleanup.

Just one guy's opinion.

@Jake Oreskovich any cash for keys agreement has to be very clear. If we do, that the agreement says broom clean. I would not have given them the $200 if they left all the trash in the back yard. 

Well, this sounds good.......in theory. However, it's not really the way this works.

I find it ironic that you are disagreeing with @Nathan G. when your way didn't work.  For the record we do offer cash for keys because it is faster when it works. However it usually does not work in our experience.