Notifications to Previous Owner


#1

I recently purchased my first home at a trustee’s sale in Los Angeles and need to know the appropriate steps in dealing with the former owner. The house has been vacant for over a year prior to the auction as stated by a former listing agent and neighbors. I had also seen the house vacant about four months ago when it was previously on the market.

Immediately after I won the auction, I had the locks changed but the previous owner still has some old belongings, mostly junk, in the garage. The house itself is empty except for an old piano. I would appreciate any insight on the following questions:

  1. Can (or should) I communicate with the former owner about removing his stuff prior to receiving the deed in the mail?

  2. Is there a recommended or required legal format in which we need to notify the former owner of our purchase and ask to remove his stuff? If there are any legal templates available for this type of notification please provide info.

Thanks for any advice on this subject!


#2

Hi Jerome,

There is an excellent thread here titled - “how to take ownership of a house after auction?” See http://www.foreclosureradar.com/forum/buyers-and-investors/buying-auction/how-take-ownership-house-after-auction

Re your questions:

  1. Can (or should) I communicate with the former owner about removing his stuff prior to receiving the deed in the mail?

My answer would be - “it depends” … You might get varying opinions from different investors. In one instance I believe (with the benefit of hindsight) that I moved too quickly to begin communications with the “ex”-owner. I had a great buy at the steps and the ex-owner, who lived out of state, was prepared to battle to keep rental income on the property. I notified him immediately (same day as trustee sale) and before I had recorded my trustees deed upon sale I had already been named as a co-defendant in a lawsuit along w the bank & trustee. Since I had not yet recorded my TDUS, there were a few anxious days until I had full confidence that the sale would not be rescinded. The ex-owner’s suit was totally bogus of course and I ultimately won and made good money on the property. But my lesson learned was to lay low (on a property that I know to have good equity) and wait to deliver the news to the ex-homeowner, until *after* I have recorded the TDUS … which perfects the sale as of the date of the trustee sale (as long as TDUS is recorded within 15 calendar days of the sale). Many would also advise you record the TDUS *before* beginning (if necessary) any unlawful detainer (eviction) action.

In many instances, however, it is better to take immediate action to post change of ownership notice, and take possession of the property (e.g. vacant property).

Re 2) Is there a recommended or required legal format in which we need to notify the former owner of our purchase and ask to remove his stuff? If there are any legal templates available for this type of notification please provide info.

Generic notices below are just examples that I’ve used (referencing CA civil code). Best if you consult with your own legal advisor (i.e. use at your own risk):

I would suggest you post a “change of ownership” notice on the front door even if the property appears to be vacant. I created my own generic notice which is purposefully succinct: “Ownership of: (Property address) changed on XX/XX/2012 (effective date) and all questions/matters relating to this property should be directed to: (my contact info).” (take a photo of the notice you post)

Re abandoned personal property … Here is a generic notice that I have used …
NOTICE OF RIGHT TO RECLAIM ABANDONED PROPERTY

TO: (EX-OWNERS)

When you vacated the premises at: (ADRESS) the following personal property remained:

(List items in detail and take photos and/or video as proof)

You may claim the above described personal property at: (Property address or storage facility)
I would request that you give 48 hours advance notice of the date you intend to pick up your personal property so that I might have a representative there to provide you access and 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.

Unless you pay the reasonable cost of storage for all of the above described property, and take possession of the property, which you claim, not later than: XX/XX, 2012, this property may be disposed of pursuant to CA Civil Code, Section 1988.

If you fail to reclaim the property by XX/XX/2012, it may be sold at public sale after notice of the sale has been given by publication. You have the right to bid on the property at this sale. After the property is sold and the cost of storage, advertising and sale, are deducted, the remaining money (if any) will be paid over to XXXXX County.

You may claim the remaining money (if any) at any time within one year after the County receives the money.

X:_____________________________________________ XX/XX, 2012


#3

Move the piano to the garage and stack everything together and lock garage. Send the notice above. If you don’t have an address you can list in front door or front of property for 18 days (I think) then dispose.


#4

I think you were mistaken. There were no personal belongings in the house. Just some trash bags.