Tenants in property bought at trustee sale

I purchased a property at a trustee sale, and there are tenants occupying it. Their lease is dated after the NOD, in fact, just a couple of months before the trustee sale. I tried contacting them, but they don’t want to communicate, and I haven’t been able to go inside the property. What are my rights and options in this case? I want the property vacant as soon as possible. The question is for Nevada.

There are several things you can do:

  1. Any lease (or at least in California) allows a property owner to enter the premises for inspection with 24 hours written notice. Give notice to them immediately for an inspection. You MUST have your Trustee Deed recorded first for proof of ownership. You cannot exercise any rights until you are the recorded owner - or at least to be safe.

  2. Ask for a copy of the lease. The rental amount must be for fair market rent. Get several qualified opinions on what the fair market rent is for the property. If it is not fair market rent, then contact an experienced foreclosure eviction attorney to determine what you can do.

  3. There are differing opinions on whether the lease has to be signed prior to Notice of Default or prior to Notice to Sell. The legal language merely states ‘prior to notice of foreclosure’ so the interpretation is open. See if you can find the prior owner’s signature on the lease and compare to their signature on the recorded documents (such as Deed of Trust) to ensure that the prior owner really did execute the lease.

  4. You can legally work on the property - such as yard work. You could give notice that you are going to clean up the landscaping and start making it miserable for them as you are working on the yard.

  5. You can sell the property - subject to the lease. So, you could notify them that you are going to put the property up for sale and there may be buyers entering the property - with proper 24 hours notice. Even if you are not planning to sell with the tenants you can notify them that you are going to do that.

  6. Try cash for keys (you should do this first)

  7. Start collecting fair market rent - they may think they are going to get a free ride for awhile.

Thank you GJ. I will try to contact them again to propose the cash for keys. You gave me a lot of other helpful advice too, thanks

They could be forclosure “squatters” who paid no money to anyone and moved in after they saw the prior owners evicted.

The advice above is great–you can do a few other things as well.

You can also evict them, serve them with notice and move them out as fast as the eviction is final. You can serve them with notice to enter the premises for repairs and inspection, If they do not comply with your notice, you can call the police and enter the property to do a “welfare check” with the officers present. You will have to get a lock smith to open the doors as well. You want to have all your papers (including the signature comparisons mentioned above (so you can show them to the officers). In some cases the police will not help you, but most of the time they will knock on the door and demand the occupants open the door and prove they have legal right to be in the property…

Also be careful, the best advice is the have the police present. These squatters, if that’s what they are can be very nasty. In Los Angeles we’ve had criminals set up shop in multi-million dollar forclosed homes (owned by the banks) in Beverly Hills, and then harass and intimidate the neighbors to stop them from calling the police.

Another thing you should know about Neveda is if the prior owner rented the house to someone then took their money, and you tenants are not squaters. Either way it’s a felony, so be sure to also file a police report until you get the situation figured out. If the people are squatters and you get the police involved you may get them out as soon as the police start asking questions. Also if they refuse to respond to you try to get their identites. The police can get names from cars and they can also check the utilities to see who is on the bills. If they are squatters, you’d be surprised how fast they run when you get the police to show up at the house. They may be hiding inside, but the stress will probably get them to run in the middle of the night!!! Good luck!

Is it legal to retake possession from a squatter? I have a previous owner who moved out and then after we bout and took possession of the property they broke in and changed the locks back. They don’t stay at the house they are just trying to get cash for keys. ( they want 10k). We have the keys and can enter anytime as they are never there. I was thinking of just going in and changing the locks and letting my Rottweiler occupy the place(he’s all bark and no bite).

You should go and consult your lawyer and then make necessary arrangements for the immediate possession of your property.

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Hi Katherine, I think GJ’s steps, as outlined above, are excellent. Unless/until you have a formal eviction granted by the court. police involvement may not be so easy, even when it’s evident (especially to you) that the occupants are flat out “squatters.” The sheriffs have plenty of experience with the formal eviction process, but they want a document from the court before they act. Law enforcement would make exceptions of course if there is evidence that criminal activity is taking place that poses an imminent danger/hazard to the property or neighborhood (drug labs, gunfire, etc.). You mentioned “welfare check,” but I’m pretty certain that is reserved for instances when sheriffs are checking to make sure that someone has not locked themselves inside and poses a danger to him/herself or to others (e.g. mental illness and not eating). Without a court’s backing, the sheriff’s in most counties, will be reluctant to remove a person from the property if they are an adult, don’t want to leave, and pose no danger to themselves or others. But if you suspect any dangerous/hazardous/criminal activity IS taking place at your property, call in the law for a door knock.