- Real Estate
What To Do And What Not To Do If You Are Served With An Eviction Notice
For the sake of brevity, this article is primarily dealing with eviction after foreclosure. Eviction is one of the sad consequences of foreclosure, especially in these hard economic times. It's like a domino effect, you have the economy in dire straits, leading to the loss of employment, foreclosure, at times, is the end result. In the last 5 years foreclosure has reached an all time high, so has the eviction rate.
Eviction, what a scary word. It's one thing to leave a home you've lived in for years, or even for a short time, voluntarily, but to be evicted is so disconcerting. Foreclosure is the beginning of the end, and eviction is the end.
Some, when they receive the eviction notice just simply walk away without ceremony. While others choose to stay and fight to the bitter end. Actually there are pros and cons to both. If you have a place to go then walking away without ceremony is the best option. But what if you don't have anywhere to go, then maybe to stay to the bitter end is the way to go. So if you are the latter, you'll need help in this regard. Foreclosure victims cannot unceremoniously be removed from the house without being notified and given an opportunity to defend such an action in court.
The eviction process is multi-fold. After the foreclosure is complete, the eviction process begins.
3 Day Notice To Vacate
The3 day notice to vacate is usually the first phase of the eviction process. Let me back up, in some cases the new owner, bank, or whomever now owns the property that you once called your home will offer you what is called "cash for keys." What that means is they will offer you money to essentially find another place to live. All they ask is that you leave the property in good condition, meaning, don't remove any of the permanent fixtures, make holes in the walls,or damage the property in any way, and leave it as they say, "broom clean," essentially take away all of your personal property, and garbage.
Back to the 3 day notice to vacate, providing you opt not to take the "cash for keys." This notice simply means that you are asked to vacate the property with no problems in three days, and no further action will be taken. However, here is where the real process begins. (Don't worry, the Landlord cannot simply change the locks or take possession of the premises without a Court order or a voluntary surrender of the premises by the tenant). If there has been no compliance by the tenant with the 3 day notice, then the Landlord can begin an unlawful detainer lawsuit "eviction." So if you "choose" to draw it out, the next step is that the unlawful detainer is filed against you.
Unlawful detainer is a legal action brought by a landlord to obtain possession of the property. It's at this point that you might want to seek help. I'd like to add that an unlawful detainer will go on your credit report. Back to the issue at hand, there are entire industries that have sprung up to help you in these cases, (or in some cases to hurt you). One industry is called Eviction Defense Companies. One such company is "don't walk yet" Of course in all cases you must do your research. These companies say they can help you stay in your foreclosed home for up to six months beyond your first notice, (3 day notice). What they do is file answers to all legal documents filed against. Of course you could do this for yourself, but if you are not legally savvy, it could cost more for you to do it yourself than leave it in the hands of competent legal professionals. As with any claims, don't take it a face value, and part with your money too readily, take your time to check them all out.
After the unlawful detainer is filed, here is where you'll have to check your state's eviction laws, because it varies from state to state. Suffice it to say it's at this time the the court systems could become your friend. Your friend, in the sense that, this is when the time you might need to find suitable lodging is gained. Due to the high volume of foreclosures the court systems are backed up. Not to mention the fact that there are legal time frames. Meaning the law allows time between each legal action.
What Not To Do
The worst thing you can do is, "nothing," especially if you have no place to go. Another thing you don't want to do is to destroy the property, because this is illegal, and in most cases you'll be dealt with harshly.
What doing nothing can cost you after a foreclosure. One: If you do nothing and leave your home for 3 or more days, (vacation, business trip etc.) and your house looks vacant, the real estate company, or owner representative can come in and change the locks, effectively ending your stand-off. Two: Another more horrifying situation that's been in the news lately, is that someone can gain access to your home with an illegal lease and stake a claim, there again you're out, because when the authorities are called you have no recourse because you no longer legally own the property, and they have a lease, albeit illegal. Of course court proceedings can be initiated, using up valuable time. A real life experience that I heard about. A family went away for a weekend, and forgot to leave lights on, or any signs of occupancy, they came back, everything was alright. But then they went shopping and came back and the locks were changed. It happened that quickly. What had happened was, the Real Estate agent thought, (or so he said), the house was abandoned and this happened to be the third day that he saw no action, so he did what was instructed of him, "change the locks." Frightening situation, but that's what can happen if no action is taken after the 3 Day Notice to Vacate.
The Sheriffs Order To Evict
After all the court proceedings, appeals etc, are exhausted, the end result is the Sheriffs order to evict, if you let it go that far. Don't do that! You've had months to prepare, don't suffer the last humiliation of being forcibly removed. However, if you do let it get to that point, know that even at that stage you can reclaim your dignity. In most cases the sheriff will post a notice of eviction on the
property, which will indicate the specific date that the locks will be
changed and all property is to be removed. So take advantage of this time and leave with your dignity intact.
As stated previously Eviction is a scary word, but it can be less so with foreknowledge. Remember, "forewarned is forearmed." So do your research and may all go well with you.