You have lost the fight and the bank has acquired a Writ of Possession…now what?
**This is for homeowners after a foreclosure/fraudclosure who have lost the Unlawful Detainer either through fighting the UD or by ignoring it; tenants rights are different and not reviewed in this article.
First, no bank or new property owner is allowed to “self help” themselves in removing you from the property. The COURT must grant the alleged new property owner a writ of possession that can only be executed by a law enforcement officer (usually the County Sheriff and/or one of his personnel),and the Court can only grant a Writ of Possession AFTER the party has received a JUDGMENT. The law is very clear that eviction can only take place when proper court procedures are followed. (See California Eviction Process by California Consumer Affairs)
A Writ of Possession is posted by personnel from the Sheriff’s Department – not a legal firm, not a process server. It is NOT a Notice to Quit or a Notice to Vacate; it is not even the Unlawful Detainer Complaint itself. The document is called “Writ of Possession” and when this is posted to your door..TAKE IT SERIOUSLY and pack to move. It typically gives you FIVE days to remove your belongings from the house before the lock out.
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What is a lock out? This is when the Sheriff shows up with a representative of the bank/new property owner and a locksmith. The locksmith will change ALL the locks to the property and turn the keys over to the representative and/or new property owner. You are officially barred from re-entering the property without the presence and permission of the now official “property owner” and you must LEAVE THE HOUSE while the Sheriff is present.
At this time the new property owner can hire its own personnel to come and remove your belongings and store them until you are ready to retrieve them. (You are responsible for the property owner’s costs to remove and store your possessions) The new property owner cannot “trash” your belongings..they are required during the first 18 days after the lock out to store them so that you can retrieve them. However, it is NEVER RECOMMENDED you wait for the property owner to do so. The maximum penalty for the property owner ignoring the law is $250 dollars….so not a lot of financial incentive for them to properly store your belongings, in fact there is more incentive for them to trash out the house and just pay you the check for $250 dollars. (Which they could probably deduct from any damages they are entitled to from the judgment…as you can see this can get messy and ugly very quickly).
If you have lost the unlawful detainer (either you fought it and lost it; or you ignored it) – and you cannot get everything removed in that five days, then a MAKE A PHONE CALL to the property owner. Agree to meet them for the Lock Out – and make arrangements to have a moving company (or you with moving trucks) to remove whatever remains at the property.
DO NOT IGNORE THE WRIT OF POSSESSION…the Sheriff WILL SHOW UP and they WILL REMOVE you from the property. But do not panic and leave your possessions or pets behind. COMMUNICATION will become critical and the only communication that will assist you in getting everything removed is a phone call to the property owner. They will not give you another week or month…you need to be prepared to have the moving company as close to the day of the lock out as possible – and if you need seven or eight days instead of five, the only way you can get the additional time is by calling the property owner and asking them to schedule a time for the moving trucks (well you do the scheduling but you will need to coordinate the time/date with the property owner).
Depending on how contentious this process has been, it is possible to arrange a moving schedule that minimizes the costs to the new property owner while at the same preserving your belongings. Just do not expect the property owner to give you more time because you or a family member is sick, out of town, etc. This is serious business and at this time must be your number one priority or you risk losing what is left in the house …forever. [/ismember]
KEEP UP THE FIGHT!
 To fully understand the Unlawful Detainer process and how to fight it, please see our California Homeowners Fighting an Unlawful Detainer.