You may have heard about the now-infamous California couple who cannot move into their new home because the seller refuses to leave. (In case you missed it, here’s the link
to the Inside Edition segment.)
I dug deeper into this situation. In a nutshell, while the moratorium itself does not technically protect him, the backlog in the civil court system due to court closures because of COVID, coupled with the seller’s delay tactics is perpetuated a 14-month delay in these buyers’ ability to obtain possession of their home—for which they have spent their life’s savings and are paying the monthly mortgage. The good news, is they have *finally taken possession of their home!*
What lessons can we learn from this and apply to a divorce case?
Adult Residing in the House
When a house is being sold in a divorce case, the parties and the Realtor should be vigilant about the intentions of an adult child, roommate, friend, significant other, relative, or any other adult living in the property. If they show any signs or threatening not to vacate upon close of escrow, consider serving them with a proper notice. I recommend an eviction attorney handle this, because the COVID climate and moratoriums may necessitate special language or documentation. This will, at the very least, start the timeline ticking for the notice that will be necessary for an eviction, and it will demonstrate that their shenanigans will not be tolerated.
Tenant Occupied Property
When the parties own a rental property that needs to be sold and it is tenant occupied, the power the tenant holds should not be underestimated. Their cooperation to showcase the house to potential buyers can mean the difference between an offer or no offer, as well as the value a buyer places on the house. However, their willingness is often not stellar, especially since they have no vested interest in the sale itself. They can also dig their heels in and refuse to pay rent or vacate.
These situations can quickly escalate and become a nightmare, so it is wise to treat a tenant with kid gloves. Serving them with proper notice is recommended, along with a “cash for keys” option like banks use with foreclosures, wherein they are given money (usually between $2,000 and $5,000) in exchange for facilitating showings, keeping the house in good condition, and leaving peacefully upon the close of escrow.
On March 29th, the Federal moratorium on evictions was extended from March 31st to June 30th, which may come as an unwelcome surprise to landlords who were ready to move forward with their eviction processes. Additionally, each state has their own regulations as well, that may or may not conform to the national standard.
Should you have any questions about this or any other real estate related issue in your case, please do not hesitate to contact me