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Homeowning quandary: The Bad Beginning

A few days ago we signed closing papers for a house. Yesterday our escrow people confirmed everything was complete and the place was ours. Last night we drove over there, hoping to get a hold of our realtor and get the keys and walk into Our New House, just to look around and start dreaming of paint colors.

Imagine our confusion to find the lights were still on, the doors were open, an old truck was backed into the driveway, and one of the previous owners was directing some guys carrying stuff out of the house. Yes: They were still moving out. They were nowhere near done. It looked, in fact, as if they had just gotten started. We made some small talk and introductions with the woman, who was cheerful and seemingly oblivious as to their obligation to actually be out of the house by this time.

Being nice and non-confrontational people, we excused ourselves and wandered aside and called our realtor, who was not amused with the other team. He told us to get a key from the old owners, and figure out what was going on; and meanwhile he would leave a seriously unpleasant message for their realtor (who apparently neglected to make his clients understand that they actually had to, you know, vacate the premises by Friday). We got a key from Mrs. Oblivious, and decided, what the hell; we weren't going to get much done Friday night anyway, so we would come back Saturday morning. They swore they'd have the house cleared out by then, and would just have the outbuilding to clean out--which they would do over the weekend. Okay, fine, if you must. The house is the important part anyway.

So this morning we drive back over there. No one is around this time (they said they had to work Saturday), but:
a) The key Mrs. Oblivious gave us does not work, and
b) A look into the windows, and around the yard, indicates pretty clearly that they are not done clearing out. In fact, their stuff is still everywhere.

Today, we are not so inclined to be nice. This isn't just "kind of" our house. We aren't in a legal twilight period where it's "partially" ours and partially theirs. No. This is completely, legally, totally our house now--and we can't get into it and their stuff is all over the place. Our realtor has been unreachable today, but I'm sure he will have some choice words for them and their team, which I can't wait to hear. In the meantime I ask you...

Poll #388622 Homeowning quandary: The Bad Beginning

What should we do?

Get all the locks changed, without informing the previous owners
Have someone move all their stuff out and take it to their new place, and send them the bill
Charge them rent for the days they still have stuff in the house
Hack their realtor's website so it displays porn with his face on it
Obtain mob connections and apply some real "pressure"
Shrug it off, wait it out, and go do something fun - what's one weekend, right?

Other suggestions welcome in the comments. There's actually even more to the unprofessionalism and tackiness of these previous owners, but I'm too polite and disgusted to go into right now.



Nov. 22nd, 2004 11:16 pm (UTC)
As usual, you're psychic. I very nearly put "Drag out their possessions and hold a bonfire" as an option. But we're sort of near the airport now, so I didn't want to send any wrong signals to incoming planes...
Nov. 23rd, 2004 04:54 am (UTC)
I'm kind of liking an "all of the above" option just before the nice one. I'm not a patient person, and since the place is yours, that makes their stuff yours too. So whatever you do with it is legal. Including giving it to the Salvation Army (who do pickups), Goodwill (also pick stuff up), or any other charity in your area. It's kind of cool to do something nice while you are sticking it to people who have screwed you.
Nov. 23rd, 2004 08:21 pm (UTC)
Well, no, not really....
Undoubtedly it varies by state, but at least around here, you have to take "Reasonable care" with their possessions for 30 days. After which you can have a pleasant little bonfire.

As for the definition of "Reasonable care" - you can pile all the stuff in the garage. You can put it outside under a tarp as long as there's no reason to expect that a blizzard is going to be passing by anytime soon. But you can't just toss things on to the front yard, exposed to the elements and random passers-by.

And the one thing you most certainly can't do is take their stuff, any more than you can legally take possession of some random jerk's car when he suddenly decides he really likes YOUR driveway, and not his.

Don't ask me how I know this. ;-)

- Rich