Is it legal to remove cabinets from your home if it is being foreclosed on?
My home is being foreclosed on and I am wondering if it is legal to remove my kitchen cabinets that I installed from my house before the back takes it back? If it is not legal what are the consequences?
The general rule is that homeowners can take any personal belongings, but must leave all fixtures related to the property. Determining what a fixture is can be one of the difficult questions about moving, whether it is a foreclosure situation or not. Especially because many items in a house hold sentimental value, as well as functional value, homeowners need to carefully evaluate what might be considered personal property and what needs to stay with the house as real property.
There are a few questions homeowners should ask themselves to figure out which appliances are fixtures and which are not. First, will removing it cause damage to the property or make it unlivable ? Thus, unplugging the dryer and washing machine and moving them will probably not cause any damage. Taking out the furnace and outside air conditioner, on the other hand, may cause damage, not to mention this will make the house difficult to live in without any source of heat. The same goes for ceiling fans and light fixtures. Homeowners can also not take the antique front door or any doorknobs, as these count as fixtures. But big items like the refrigerator can be unplugged and easily moved out. The keys to the house also count as fixtures, because they are integrally related to the property, and not having keys to doors will make the house difficult to enter, and make the doorknob fixtures useless, necessitating expenditures by the new owners to change all of the locks.
Foreclosure victims also need to ask the question of what was the original intent of the item: as a permanent item or something to be moved easily? Permanent items like the furnace and sink faucets and copper pipes should stay. So should the glass in the cabinet doors. However, if the homeowners moved into the property and the previous owners left a desk in the basement or a microwave they did not take with them, the homeowners have every right to take those items, since they were probably meant to be personal property. Just the fact of being left in a property after a transfer of ownership does not automatically make the items fixtures.
The last question homeowners need to consider when moving out of a house after foreclosure is if the item is attached to the property in some way. They are free to remove bookshelves that they built on their own after purchasing kits from Target. However, the built-in library should probably stay, as it is attached to the property and removing it would case damage and a loss of value. The grill with propane tank can be moved and is not attached, but the huge propane tank attached to the outside of the house to provide heat in winter and the hot water heater are attached firmly to the piping and integral to the functioning of the property. Thus, they must stay, along with the items that make them work, such as pipes, gauges, and other minor items used with the larger fixture.
By now you have gathered that the cabinets are probably considered a fixture. I am assuming that they are probably expensive which is why you wish to take them with you. Had they been replaced upon remodel with inexpensive cabinets you probably would not care as much. And as long as there would have been no damage to the area or renovation that made it unlivable as indicated above you would have been fine.
Try and see if anyone can help you with the foreclosure. Seek out a reputable company as there are many scam artists out there now. Good luck.