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Last month picked up a foreclosure at the sheriff's sale. I've done this several times over the years. Previously, when there were occupants, i knew what to do procedurally in my jurisdiction. If tenant, then either get them to sign a lease or evict them (after the requisite 90 days). If owner, then file for writ of possession and evict them (no waiting period)

HOWEVER - this time the place is essentially abandoned. No utilities are on, havent been for a year. BUT the previous occupant's stuff is still very much in the house. It looks like somebody just skedaddled in a hurry. Property was owned by one guy, no family entanglements on the title.

My limited internet sleuthing has turned up squat on his whereabouts. Can't find him in the obituaries, and can't get a copy of a death certificate because I'm not family or representing family.

FWF hive mind - activate!

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Just try to take away my mother in laws cast iron cookware, it originally belonged to her mother.

woowoo2 (Sep. 28, 2016 @ 7:57p) |

Maybe he got kidnapped by organ harvesters in Bangkok.

Crazytree (Sep. 28, 2016 @ 10:04p) |

Any updates?

terryann56 (Oct. 06, 2016 @ 8:34p) |

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Time to start listing crap on eBay.

I've had one of these. Utilities off for a LONG time, property preservation changed the locks, clothes in closets, personal items strewn throughout the house, cabinet full of booze, etc.

Just Goodwill/trash the stuff and move on. Some people intentionally go into hiding.

IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

BrianGa said:   IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

i like that. thanks.

solarUS said:   
BrianGa said:   IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

i like that. thanks.

  Why? The property was foreclosed with everything inside. IANAL but legally, everything inside is yours. 

alamo11 said:   I've had one of these. Utilities off for a LONG time, property preservation changed the locks, clothes in closets, personal items strewn throughout the house, cabinet full of booze, etc.

 

this isn't that. this place looks like somebody just left....although i strongly doubt they did.

alamo11 said:   
solarUS said:   
BrianGa said:   IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

i like that. thanks.

  Why? The property was foreclosed with everything inside. IANAL but legally, everything inside is yours. 
 

not if the owner is still occupying the place in any meaningful way.

LOL @ "IANAL but legally...." 

solarUS said:   
alamo11 said:   
solarUS said:   
BrianGa said:   IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

i like that. thanks.

  Why? The property was foreclosed with everything inside. IANAL but legally, everything inside is yours. 

not if the owner is still occupying the place in any meaningful way.

LOL @ "IANAL but legally...." 

  I would argue the property isn't habitable without utilities. 

alamo11 said:   
solarUS said:   
alamo11 said:   
solarUS said:   
BrianGa said:   IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

i like that. thanks.

  Why? The property was foreclosed with everything inside. IANAL but legally, everything inside is yours. 

not if the owner is still occupying the place in any meaningful way.

LOL @ "IANAL but legally...." 

  I would argue the property isn't habitable without utilities. 

  Tell that to anyone who was born prior to 1907.

DTASFAB said:   
alamo11 said:   
solarUS said:   
alamo11 said:   
solarUS said:   
BrianGa said:   IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

i like that. thanks.

  Why? The property was foreclosed with everything inside. IANAL but legally, everything inside is yours. 

not if the owner is still occupying the place in any meaningful way.

LOL @ "IANAL but legally...." 

  I would argue the property isn't habitable without utilities. 

  Tell that to anyone who was born prior to 1907.

  Sure. Let me fire up the delorean

Worth paying a local lawyer for an hour or two of research/advice, to avoid any traps for the unwary.

Burn it all.

On abandoned rentals where I live you have to put a notice in the paper in case something belongs to someone else such as rental companies etc., like a  frig or washer/ dryer. And you cannot dispose of it for 30 or 60 days after ad (seems like few read the paper anymore???)- I forget whether it is 30 or 60.
BUT foreclosure I don't know. I am with lawyering up.

Attorney Jim Mounger in New Orleans would know, but his advice isn't free. I used him once before on a sheriffs sale / adversarial eviction combo in 2006. 

Maybe you ask for a rule for possession (eviction) just in case someone shows up later and complains. 

alamo11 said:   
solarUS said:   
BrianGa said:   IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

i like that. thanks.

  Why? The property was foreclosed with everything inside. IANAL but legally, everything inside is yours. 

  This is incorrect as explained to me by a LA real estate lawyer. A non-owner occupant or tenant still has legal possession unless they vacate voluntarily or a court grants posession of it to you. All of the usual caveats about self-help evictions apply here.

solarUS said:   
alamo11 said:   
solarUS said:   
BrianGa said:   IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

i like that. thanks.

  Why? The property was foreclosed with everything inside. IANAL but legally, everything inside is yours. 

not if the owner is still occupying the place in any meaningful way.
 


Wouldn't the body have started to smell by now if "the owner is still occupying the place?" 

TravelerMSY said:   
alamo11 said:   
solarUS said:   
BrianGa said:   IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

i like that. thanks.

  Why? The property was foreclosed with everything inside. IANAL but legally, everything inside is yours. 

  This is incorrect as explained to me by a LA real estate lawyer. A non-owner occupant or tenant still has legal possession unless they vacate voluntarily or a court grants posession of it to you. All of the usual caveats about self-help evictions apply here.

 I think it depends on the state. Here in FL tenants are named defendants in the foreclosure action. Their rights to possession are foreclosed as well except Federal law gives them a 90 day stay of sorts. I think an argument can be made the property is uninhabitable and therefore abandoned given the lack of utility service. 

 

I'm assuming New Orleans / LA since that's where solar lives.

TravelerMSY said:   Attorney Jim Mounger in New Orleans would know, but his advice isn't free. I used him once before on a sheriffs sale / adversarial eviction combo in 2006. 

Maybe you ask for a rule for possession (eviction) just in case someone shows up later and complains. 

yeah I've used Mounger's office before. good people.

seems to me i would MAYBE need a writ of possession (just in case), but an eviction wouldnt be necessary because there's nobody there. I think. Evictions of this type now require a $1600 deposit....they won't use it all, but they'll use quite a bit.

The fact that nobody has come to claim any stuff in a year's time makes me think that i will encounter no resistance in possessing this property. for anyone besides the prior owner to make a claim on it, they would have to open succession and even then, they couldnt unwrap the foreclosure. that's a done deal. best they could do would be to claim the contents i imagine...and if i get a valuation i can limit the potential claim. i think.

solarUS said:   
TravelerMSY said:   Attorney Jim Mounger in New Orleans would know, but his advice isn't free. I used him once before on a sheriffs sale / adversarial eviction combo in 2006. 

Maybe you ask for a rule for possession (eviction) just in case someone shows up later and complains. 

yeah I've used Mounger's office before. good people.

seems to me i would MAYBE need a writ of possession (just in case), but an eviction wouldnt be necessary because there's nobody there. I think. Evictions of this type now require a $1600 deposit....they won't use it all, but they'll use quite a bit.

The fact that nobody has come to claim any stuff in a year's time makes me think that i will encounter no resistance in possessing this property. for anyone besides the prior owner to make a claim on it, they would have to open succession and even then, they couldnt unwrap the foreclosure. that's a done deal. best they could do would be to claim the contents i imagine...and if i get a valuation i can limit the potential claim. i think.

  Look if you are so worried then lease a storage unit and shove all his crap in it. Let the rent default. 

Our previous house in the quarter was like that. Decades-long sucession battle resulted in a partition suit and resulting sherriffs sale. We bought the house. Unoccupied but full of furniture.  All potential occupants got served via publication and letters to their last knowns. One of them showed up angry at the closing, but there was nothing to be done. We filed for eviction but it was never heard in court. The kids turned over the keys a few weeks later, leaving a house full of moldy crap and a half-eaten chicken dinner on the stove.

These deals are a minefield. You have my respect for being able to navigate them successfully.

Not sure if this is something you've already looked into, but maybe he got arrested & sent to jail?

TravelerMSY said:   Our previous house in the quarter was like that. Decades-long sucession battle resulted in a partition suit and resulting sherriffs sale. We bought the house. Unoccupied but full of furniture.  All potential occupants got served via publication and letters to their last knowns. One of them showed up angry at the closing, but there was nothing to be done. We filed for eviction but it was never heard in court. The kids turned over the keys a few weeks later, leaving a house full of moldy crap and a half-eaten chicken dinner on the stove.

These deals are a minefield. You have my respect for being able to navigate them successfully.

your case does have some similarities...the key difference i think is that there is no succession. the sheriff's sale was against the man only....so even they didnt have any info that he had died (which reinforces why the obits aren't showing anything).

jail seems possible i guess. that'd make sense. but nothing in my Parish or the next Partish over comes up.

Yeah. In my case I knew the parties to the suit had posession of the house. You don't know whether to look for the previous owner or a tenant.

BrianGa said:   IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

 Even without a receipt to establish fair market value of items sold, previous owner would have a hard time establishing the value claimed without anything on hand, and stuff having been left for over a year. I doubt they had a good video inventory and stash of receipt for the content of their home...

If you itemize deductions, you could also donate it all to a charity who will write you a fair value receipt for the gifted items. IMO whatever is most expidient considering the hassle it is to get rid of the previous owner's junk.

Shandril said:   If you itemize deductions, you could also donate it all to a charity who will write you a fair value receipt for the gifted items. IMO whatever is most expidient considering the hassle it is to get rid of the previous owner's junk.
  You can't get a tax deduction for things you didn't buy.
 

You're right vipercon, but wouldn't these items be part of the purchase of the foreclosure? That's why OP gets them and not anyone else. That doesn't give a clear price paid, but claiming actual resale value seems justifiable. It would only be a problem if OP's actual cost was lower than that. And used items via a charity usually have a pretty modest "thrift store" value.

SlimTim said:   You're right vipercon, but wouldn't these items be part of the purchase of the foreclosure? That's why OP gets them and not anyone else. That doesn't give a clear price paid, but claiming actual resale value seems justifiable. It would only be a problem if OP's actual cost was lower than that. And used items via a charity usually have a pretty modest "thrift store" value.
  It sounds like the buyer was not aware of the possessions until after the sale, so its hard to claim they were paid for and not "free with purchase".   I am not saying he couldn't get away with it, just that it probably shouldn't be allowed.
 

I offer as stated maybe previous owner is in jail or hospital. Maybe they go on drug runs. Then return to abode  & camp out.

dcwilbur said:   
solarUS said:   
alamo11 said:   
solarUS said:   
BrianGa said:   IANYL

I think it's pretty safe to say that everything is abandoned.

If you want to play it extra safe, maybe have some kind of auction / liquidation company come and give you an offer for everything. That way, in the unlikely event that the owner sues you later for discarding the possessions, you can establish that the fair market value of the items was little or nothing.

i like that. thanks.

  Why? The property was foreclosed with everything inside. IANAL but legally, everything inside is yours. 

not if the owner is still occupying the place in any meaningful way.


Wouldn't the body have started to smell by now if "the owner is still occupying the place?" 

  The individual would have ceased to smell at TOD

What ever you do take PLENTY of pictures for your protection.

vipercon said:   
Shandril said:   If you itemize deductions, you could also donate it all to a charity who will write you a fair value receipt for the gifted items. IMO whatever is most expidient considering the hassle it is to get rid of the previous owner's junk.
  You can't get a tax deduction for things you didn't buy.

  I believe you had to hold it for one year, and then you can deduct fair market value.

He did buy all that crap.  It conveys with the house.

***UPDATE***

previous owner is alive. talked to a neighbor. apparently he's in hospice, has been for over a year. unlikely to return.

considering going to see him in the facility and working something out. i will have good news and bad news for him - the bad news is obvious, the good news is that there will be some money coming his way in the form of a remainder from the sheriff. (at least $15k i reckon, he had a very small mortgage)...wondering how to handle his stuff though. Can I put it in storage and hold it for a month and let him know he can get it during that time? obviously i'd move it to a relative's or his OWN storage unit that he pays for...but i'm not holding it indefinitely of course.

solarUS said:   ***UPDATE***

previous owner is alive. talked to a neighbor. apparently he's in hospice, has been for over a year. unlikely to return.

considering going to see him in the facility and working something out. i will have good news and bad news for him - the bad news is obvious, the good news is that there will be some money coming his way in the form of a remainder from the sheriff. (at least $15k i reckon, he had a very small mortgage)...wondering how to handle his stuff though. Can I put it in storage and hold it for a month and let him know he can get it during that time? obviously i'd move it to a relative's or his OWN storage unit that he pays for...but i'm not holding it indefinitely of course.

  I don't have any suggestions, but good job for doing the right thing for a dying man.

I think these laws are state specific. I would talk to a lawyer - or perhaps the previous owner and see what he wants to do.  A couple guys I knew that did this in CA would put the stuff in storage and give them some amount of time to claim the stuff, before getting rid of it.

Wow I honestly thought OP found the dead guy in the attic and wanted advice on how to move him.

I can't believe that you are considering visiting the guy in hospice.
First & foremost, you need an attorney, to explain to you the law applicable in your situation & what options are available to you.  Proceeding further without one is just silly.
If it's really necessary to personally interact with this guy (vs. any reps or AIFs he may have appointed), you should consider having your lawyer make such contact.

P.S.  I am even more incredulous that you'd consider making statements to him that are beyond your full knowledge ("he's got $15k coming, I reckon").  Let the sheriff handle the sale of the real property, follow your lawyer's advice re:  the personal property.

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