What should I do to evict the former owner who occupies property after trustee sale?

I bought a property at the steps in San Francisco. The property is owner occupied, possibly with his brother and sister (not sure). What should I do to gain possession? Should I give the 3-day notice while negotiating the cash for key agreement? Do I need to give the former owner 90 days to vacate? Any helps are greatly appreciated.

You will want to determine the status of the occupants. If the property is owner occupied you are only required to give a 3 day notice. If the property is tenant occupied then you would have to give them a 90 day notice if they are on a month to month tenancy. If they have a lease dated prior to the Deed of Trust then you would need to honor the terms of the lease. You will have to make the judgement call on serving the notice and negotiating a cash for keys. If they appear to be willing to move and accept a cash for keys offer you may not want to aggravate the situation by serving a notice. On the other hand, if they are only stringing you along and the do not end up moving as agreed you have possibly lost valuable time by not serving the notice.

Thanks a lot Michelle. You’re always so helpful as I read your other responses in this forum.

If the owner’s sister and brother also live in the property (most likely without a written lease), are they considered tenants and subject to the tenant’s rights? Should I serve them the 3-day or 90-day notice? I saw other posts here suggested serving 3-day/90-days. Does that mean serving both notices simultaneously? I also saw a post by Sean suggested that eviction could be done in parallel with negotiating for cash for keys. Should I serve them a 3-day/90-day notice to get the clock ticking and then follow up with the cash for keys negotiation? Thanks in advance for any helps.

Hey Wallace:

Yeah, you got yourself an SF pig-in-a-poke on your hands. As you know, SF is one of those jurisdictions with stringent tenant protections. If you’re on the wrong end of the tenant protection ordinances see-saw (tenants know more than you), you can get really chewed up. On the other hand, if you have the superior knowledge, you will prevail with all your limbs intact.

There’s a lot of nuance in these things and I don’t want to go into it in a public forum.

However if you would like to reach out to me and talk privately, shoot me an email - bayareabankowned at gmail dot com.

Hi Wallace,
Chistopher makes a great point about SF. Having managed properties there in the early 90’s I can tell you evicting tenants in SF is tough. There are some investors that will serve both notices and you can always negotiate the cash for keys during the eviction and if successful you can drop the Unlawful detainer. Because you are in SF and you are unsure how the process works you may want to hire someone to help you. A simple error can end up costing you more in the long run.

If I buy a property in a trustee sale and receive a quitclaim deed - and no one occupies the residence may I lawfully gain entrance to the property if I haven’t went through the process of a quiet title suit.

Hi Ken, If you buy a property at trustee sale the trustee will send you a Trustees Deed. Provided that deed is recorded within 15 days of the sale then the effective date of ownership is the actual auction date. If the property is vacant and you buy it at trustee sale you can immediately change the locks and take possession of the property.

Hi, I just bought a condo yesterday at trustee sale, I went to the property, neighbors told me nobody lives at the property, but they occassionly see someone come back. I saw few items in the living room from the window. Can someone tell me if this property is considered as" vacant "or not? The association won’t give me the owner’s contact info till I present them the deed. What shall I do now? Many thanks!!!

HI Kate, You will want to start by posting a notice of belief of abandonment. Include your contact info on the notice so that IF there is an occupant they can contact you. The rules are different from state to state.

As Michelle has noted, different states different laws. My experience is limited to California. Also, this is what I have done in similar situations.

If it really looks like no one is living there, I would enter and inspect. If this is CA, possession does not require that anyone be living there. So, if you enter and find a bed, clothes and food in the refrigerator, I would change the locks, put a posing on the door about how to contact me and then wait to see what happens. If someone contacts you act-as-though you own it and that you are now in possession. If they tell you that they live there, you can always give them a key and appologize.

On the other hand, if no one contacts you and the property has a “garage sale” value of less than $300, and no one claims the property in before you get the TDUS, you can do what you want with what is there.

I err on the side of securing the property and protecting my interests. Sometimes it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

Thanks Michael and Richard! The property is in California. Could you suggest me that how many days of the Notice of belief of abandoment should I give the previous owner before I go in and change the lock? I met with the HOA president today and she asked for the grand deed before she allows me to enter the property (there is a front gate for the condos) or she might call the cop, is she been reasonable? Could you tell me what’s my right now before I get the deed paperwork? Thanks again

You probably have already shared too much with the HOA. Experienced buyers will find out a gate code from MLS listings for the development. Not sure what a cop would do. We have a hard time getting the police to respond to anything related to foreclosures. I think what Michelle is referring to is the procedure for dealing abandoned personal property. That is a different and separate issue from a tenant in possession. CA tenant law is tricky stuff and I always use an attorney if I can’t bluff my way through. It is not a big risk, but if you do it wrong it will only delay the process. Ask at the steps for the eviction attorney the regulars use.

The period from the trustee sale until I get the TDUS is one of the more uncomfortable periods in the process for me. If you search the forum, you will find discussions on this issue. From what I understand, when the crier takes my money and hands me a receipt, I am the new owner. If the building burns down, it is my problem. So I have taken the position that I have to act as though I am the owner, that includes securing the property, getting insurance, (not an easy task) contacting the occupants and taking possession if I think no one is living there. For the most part, this has worked. There have been a few tough occupants that were not cooperative. I am still amazed that I can show up with my toolbox and drill and break into the house in the middle of the day. It has been an intersting way to meet the neighbors. I also have found that the neighbors are usually sick of the mess and worried about the value of their property and are relieved that someone is finally taking control of the situation. This is risky business and there is not always a legal clear path. It is a bit like the wild west, you have to take care of your own interests first. The risks of not doing so out weigh the risks of stepping on the toes of an occupant or the HOA. By they way, the HOA president is well aware of the fact that the delinquent HOA fees were wiped out by the foreclosure. Many HOAs are really getting hurt. If there was a short sale, they may have had a chance at getting paid. So, she may want you to prove it to her. There are also people that just show up and say they are buying the property for a variety of reasons. We recently won a property that was a in escrow in a short sale. When we contacted the tenant to tell them we were the new owners and advise them on where to pay the rent, we found out the buyer in the short sale had basically taken control of the property and was collecting the rent. Crazy stuff.

Thanks again for all your great inputs.

You might try using the auction receipt and the Foreclosure Radar report showing the 3rd party sale to prove to the HOA that the deal is done and you are the owner.