How to legally remove occupants after House Purchase

3 Replies

There are occupants on 2 residential properties I'm negotiating to purchase that I want to remove. Property number one is a holdover tenant from the previous owner with 8 months left on their rental agreement. The person renting to this occupant was never legal authorized to rent to them. The house had been foreclosed on several years previously and the bank just never took completed the steps to take it back. The second property is similar in that the occupants are essentially squatting they neither have a lease or any rental agreement. I'm purchasing it from a law firm that was the holding entity during a lawsuit several years ago. How would I have both occupants removed from these properties? They are in Birmingham Alabama. Any useful advice from someone that has dealt with these sort of cases will be greatly appreciated.  

Hi @Jason Johnston , you need to file an ejectment lawsuit against them. 

This is done in Circuit Court.  It will cost you around $1,500 and take around 45 days if you are able to take a default judgment against them. If they answer and deny and you have to file a motion for summary judgment, then it could reasonably take 90 to 120 days, and cost upwards of $2,500 or $3,000.  if they have some semi-plausible reason why the foreclosure was invalid, then the legal fees could go sky high.

That is why most foreclosing lenders have a cash for keys program that pays $2,500 if the occupant allows an inspection (with photos) and then leaves the property broom-clean (and no new damage) within 30 days. If the occupant says they need 60 days, the price drops.

If they ask for 60 days, I recommend signing the agreement but for only $1,000.  Advise then that you are going to file the ejectment lawsuit anyway, "just in case."  Get them to accept service and confess judgment, just in case they renege, and paying them $1,000 if they leave the property broom clean and undamaged within 60 days. 

Of course, they don't get a penny of the money until they move out and you inspect.  if they don't move out by the 60-day deadline, go ahead and take your default judgment.

Sirote does a lot of these kinds of ejectments.  If you want other names, go to the Circuit Clerk for your county and ask them for the names of attorneys who have filed the last 6 ejectment lawsuits. You'll see some "frequent flyers" there.  Clerks cannot recommend lawyers to you, but they can tell you who files similar lawsuits.

@Denise Evans That was the answer I was afraid of, but I'm glad you took the time to clearly lay out the process. I'll follow up after they are removed regarding what I did so it can help other investors in the future. Thanks again Denise

@Denise Evans is on it. I think that you could probably approach the occupants directly (or through a property manager) and offer cash for keys yourself. Correct me if I'm wrong. 

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