can someone tell me what should I do if the previous owner has moved out, but still has some furnitu

Hello, I bought a condo at the trustee sale auction, I have contact the previous owner who had move out of the property, but still has funitures not moved out yet. but couldn’t give me a time frame when the furniture will be moved out.
can someone give me some suggestion on what should I don’t next? the previous still has the key, and I haven’t changed the lock yet. how many days should I give them to move out the funiture? can I change the lock before they move out the funiture?
thanks a lot!!

So, the previous occupant was the previous owner, (trustor)? You say they moved out, but then you say they have furniture not moved out. That really means they have not moved out. If you are implying that they no longer are living there, how do you know they are not living there? Does not take very much under CA law to constitute occupancy and possession.

Kate, based on your post, it sounds like the ex-owner is resigned to his fate and is not attempting to claim possession of the property? If so, that’s good news. Record the Trustee’s Deed Upon Sale ASAP (if you have not already done so) and secure the property by changing the locks. If you are in communication with the ex-owner, make sure he understands that he needs to collect his possessions promptly or there will be consequences.

If the property left behind is worth more than $300 you’ll need to post a notice of belief of abandonment in the local newspaper (if it goes that far). Note that Code varies by State.

Here’s an excerpt from FR Dir. Training, Michelle, in a related post >

“That information can be found in CA Foreclosure Law - Civil Code 2924. A complete overview of that code can be found under the Learning Center Tab-Foreclosure Laws. Personal property disposition starts with a Notice of Belief of Abandonment and ends with a an auction. It is recommended that you give an 18 day notice when not personal served (posted to the property). The personal property should be inventoried, photographed or videotaped. It can be stored at a storage facility. If the property is reclaimed you are entitled to payment of storage fees and costs. If not reclaimed then you would publish the sale date and sell the items at a public auction. The whole process takes approximately 33 days.”

FWIW here’s an e-mail I’ve used re abandoned property…

TO: John Doe (ex property owner?s name)
When you vacated the premises at: 123 Main Street, Anytown, CA the following personal property remained: (List all property left behind). NOTE: Fixtures and built-in appliances are to remain in place.

You may claim the above described personal property at: 123 Main Street, Anytown, CA (list property address or storage facility). You need to give me 48 hours advance notice of the date you intend to pick up your personal property so that I might provide you with access to the property and have a representative there to observe the process. I would request that you complete your move-out in one 1/2 day - from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

You must remove the personal property (listed above) from the premises not later than XX/XX/2011 (give at least 18 days notice), otherwise this property may be disposed of pursuant to CA Civil Code, Section 1988. A reasonable cost for storage may also be levied if the personal property is not removed by XX/XX/2011

If you fail to reclaim the property by XX/XX/2011, it may be sold at public sale after notice of the sale has been given. You have the right to bid on the property at this sale. After the property is sold and the cost of storage, and cost of advertising the sale are deducted, the remaining money (if any) will be paid to (list the county where the property resides) XXXX County. You may claim the remaining money (if any) at any time within one year after the County receives the money.

Thank you for your cooperation.


Thanks Richard and Danny for your very helpful info.
I just talked to the previous owner today, he told me he will move his future sout in 10 days which is a good new for me.
Could you let me know if it’s ok for me to change the lock now or is it legal for me to do so since he had told me he still wants his futures?
I feel very uncomfortable to the fact that he has free access to my property since I’m liable for my property now. How should I communicate with him? any legal form or notice to notify him if I’m going to change the lock? thanks much again!

Is it too late to send the NOTICE OF RIGHT TO RECLAIM ABANDONED PROPERTY now since the previous has told me he plans to move the futures out in 10 days? thanks

Ask him if he will give you a key. If he gives you a key, he has surrendered possession of the property and then the only issue left is the abandoned personal property. If does not voluntarily give you a key, then you may have to push the issue by changing the locks.

Kate, In most cases it’s best to be both “good cop” and “bad cop” all rolled into one. In other words be polite, civil and and work cooperatively (good cop) with the ex-homeowner on matters such as $4keys and collection of “abandoned” property (i.e. anything still in the house after you take possession). But getting possession is critical. And if the ex owner has not yet given you a key and agreed in writing on a move out date (thereby giving you possession of the property), then IMHO it’s wise to be tough (bad cop) and serve him with a 3-day notice to quit and possibly an unlawful detainer (UD) action. You can always dismiss the UD if/when the ex-owner keeps his promise and vacates. Once the ex-owner recognizes that you’re serious, and not to be trifled with (bad cop again), he’ll be less likely to pull a fast one … such as delaying the retrieval of his stuff for weeks on end … or fighting you for possession.

If the ex-owner has clearly moved to another residence, and so communicated that fact to you in writing, then I would agree with Richard about changing the locks. IF (big IF) the ex-owner is still living in the property … and I don’t think that’s the scenario your facing … changing the locks could subject you to a “forced detainer” lawsuit. That’s probably highly unlikely in the circumstance you’re facing, but something to keep in mind. That’s why it’s a good idea to get things in writing and document carefully the fact that the ex-owner is now living elsewhere, notwithstanding any leftover personal belongings in your property.

As Danny has suggested, good cop, bad cop, (we actually have two people to play that) is a good approach. I agree that there is a risk of liabiity if you lock out an occupant, but remember, the locks are your property and you are legally allowed to change them. If he complains, simply give him a key. I have been in UD hearings where we had done this and the occupant cried foul about being locked out. What I learned is that giving them a key if they get upset will mitigate most of the risk. Way better to work with them than to fight with them. As a personal tip, we also go to great lengths to tell them that we are not the bank, we are new to the situation and had nothing to do with the foreclosure. We are simply buyers and buyers do not create foreclosures.

Thanks Richard and Danny! You have benn very helpful.
Can the previous owner still claim that he lives there since his personal belongs are in the property? Could you let me know how the law define the ex-owner still "living’ at the property? I just want to be causous and not creat a “forced detainer” lawsuit. thank you.

I can see that you are confusing common sense with the law. CA tenant law leans towards protecting the tenant. So, he does not have to live their to be or claim to be a tenant in possession. It is all of about constitutiional right to due process. You need to find out what he is thinking. This is a guy that lost his home to foreclosure, he is not happy and could not care less about your property or your timeline. So, as Danny said, you have to lean on him. Don’t worry about the lock out claim. If he won’t give you a key TODAY, change the locks, and after you do, call him and tell him the locks are changed and that he can have access when he calls you. At this point, if he tells you that you have locked him out of his house, tell him you will give him a key. Then get a lawyer, post the 3 day notice and proceed accordingly. Eviction lawyers are not expensive for routine evictions like this. And I have found, worth the money.

Richard, thanks a lot again for your advice.

Kate, Please let us know how this works out, we all learn everyday. Possession is just one of the risk hurdles buying at auction. It is not always a clear path. The best way is to get the persons in possession to voluntarily surrender the property to you. Failing that,then the only other way is to legally get possesion. That is through postings upto and including getting a writ of possession from the court. Most of the people I know doing this always try to get possesion via voluntary surrender. Cash for keys, etc. A truly vacant property with no people and nothing more than trash is candy to the flippers.