I have read about the process of evicting a foreclosed homeowner, but my question is: whilst that process is ongoing, is there anything to prevent us moving into the house (living there and beginning some much overdue maintenance) provided we don’t force the previous owner to leave?
I’m not a legal expert, but I do not think you can even enter the premises without 24 hr notice and then only to do an inspection. You cannot move in. But, you can start ‘necessary repairs’, usually on the exterior of the house.
If you are evicting the occupants you should probably stay out until they have been evicted. CA is a very pro-tenant state and you should proceed with caution when it comes to making entry and doing repairs. Also keep in mind that you are evicting these folks and if you make any repairs and improvements there could be some vandalism in retaliation for the eviction. If you are anxious to get in maybe you should offer them a cash for keys incentive to get out rather than going through the eviction process.
GJ is correct. You have to give them at least 24 hours notice.