Is The New Owner Allowed to Lock Me Out of My Home After Foreclosure?
When the foreclosure process is over and your home has been sold to a new owner at a Sheriff Sale, you will most likely have to move. However, under New Jersey law, there are procedures the new owner must go through before they can take possession of the house. They are NOT allowed to simply change the locks on you. If they do so before receiving an official Writ of Possession, it is considered an Unlawful Detainer under statute N.J.S.A. 2A:39-1. This statute states that:
“No person shall enter upon or into any real property or estate therein and detain and hold the
same, except where entry is given by law, and then only in a peaceable manner. With regard to
any real property occupied solely as a residence by the party in possession, such entry shall not
be made in any manner without the consent of the party in possession unless the entry and
detention is made pursuant to legal process…”
What Happens After a Sheriff Sale?
Here is an overview of the proper legal procedure following a sheriff sale. For more detailed information, see our New Jersey Sheriff Sale Timeline.
- The Sheriff Sale takes place. If no one agrees to pay the price set by the lender, the lender will buy the property.
- Following the sale, there is a 10 day right of redemption period in which you, the homeowner, can pay the full amount due and reclaim the property. You can also pay the full amount due or file a motion to seek to set aside the Sheriff Sale, any time before the deed is delivered to the new owner.
- Once 10 day redemption period has expired, and the new owner has paid the full purchase price, the Sheriff can deliver the deed to the new owner. (However, many Sheriff’s Offices have a backlog and it could take weeks for the deed to be delivered.)
- The new owner will apply for a Writ of Possession or Order of Removal, which gives the County Sheriff the authority to evict any occupants of the premises. Once obtained, the Sheriff will provide notice of the date the property must be vacated. A tenant with a valid lease has protection from removal by the new owner under the New Jersey Anti-Eviction Act, NJSA 2A:18-61.1 et seq.
- If you receive a notice from the Sheriff of the scheduled eviction date, you still have rights.
- You have a right to go to the Court and file a motion to ask the Judge to stay the eviction to give you more time to move. You should be prepared to provide valid reasons why the eviction should be stayed to give you more time.
- You have the right to file for Bankruptcy, as provided by federal law. In most circumstances, upon the filing of a Bankruptcy Petition, you will be entitled to the “Automatic Stay” which is an automatic injunction that may halt the eviction and other actions by creditors. In order to fully understand your options concerning Bankruptcy, you should seek a consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to determine whether it is an option for you.
- Barring any agreements between you and the new owner or an Order from the Court, you must vacate the premises by the date of the eviction, or you may be removed by the Sheriff.
The New Owner Has Changed My Locks. What Should I Do?
If the new owner of your home, or your lender, has locked you out of your home without following the proper legal procedure, contact the law office of Ira J. Metrick today. We can help you take action against the new owner for this illegal lockout.