What Happens After a Sheriff Sale? Can the New Owner Walk In and Change the Locks?
Once your home is sold at a Sheriff Sale, ownership of your home will only pass to the buyer when the full purchase price is paid and the deed is delivered from the Sheriff. Until the new owner has the deed, they cannot take any action to evict.
There are several procedures the new owner must follow before they take possession of the house and are allowed to evict you. It is illegal for them to attempt to kick you out or change the locks on you before these processes are completed. This may be considered an Unlawful Detainer, and may give you grounds to seek damages and attorney fees.
What are the Proper Eviction Procedures After Foreclosure?
Even with the Sheriff Sale completed, there are still a few things that need to happen before a legal eviction can take place. Here is a breakdown of that process.
- The Sheriff Sale takes place. If there is no buyer for the property then the lender will buy the property.
- Immediately following the sale, there is a 10 day right of redemption period, during which the homeowner can pay the full amount owed and reclaim the property if they are able to, or file a motion to try to set aside the Sheriff Sale.
- When the right of redemption expires, and the full purchase price is paid by the buyer, the deed is delivered to the new owner.
- The new owner will then have to apply for a Writ of Possession, which grants the County Sheriff the authority to evict any occupants of the property.
- The Sheriff will then give notice of the date the eviction will occur on. You do not have to leave until you get a notice from the Court or the Sheriff.
- At this point you have several options outside of evicting yourself from the property.
- Stay Put – You can wait out the 30-90 days from the Sheriff Sale until the Sheriff comes to remove you. You can use this time to save up money and try to find a new place of residence. Your lender is not allowed to take possession of the house or shut off the utilities (such as cooling, heating, or electric) during this time.
- Cash for Keys – You can see if the owner will offer “cash for keys,” or money to move in order to facilitate you to leave the premises sooner.
- Hearing to Stay Eviction – You can exercise your right to go to the Court and ask the Judge to stay the eviction. You will have to explain to the Judge why they should postpone the eviction, so make sure to come to court prepared with valid reasons.
- Bankruptcy – 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 halts 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, and what you need to do to be prepared to stop an eviction.
The New Owner is Trying to Evict Me. What Should I Do?
If you are about to be evicted from your home, it can be beneficial to have access to experienced legal advice to fight for you and protect you from being removed before your time is up. Alternately, see the New Jersey Courts Self-Help Resource Center for information on representing yourself in court.