How can we remove the property of the former owner of the house that we just bought?
Question Details: My boyfriend and I purchased his sister's home a month ago. This was supposed to be an easy, stress free, no contract deal. He went to the bank, paid off the loan in cash and transferred the deed to his name and had it recorded. Now, here we are a month later, still waiting for her to remove her personal property from the house. She has told us that she spoke to a lawyer who told her as long as utilities are still in her name (the electricity is even after several times of us asking it to be disconnected so we can put it in our names), that we have to give her 30 days notice to remove her belongings. My boyfriend and I just desperately want to be able to turn our house into our home but are in limbo until her property is removed. Do we need to give her 30 days notice? Was all personal property left behind now our possessions? How do we go about handling this situation? Once again no contracts, deed signed and keys in our possession.
She is fundamentally right. First, her personal property does NOT become yours because you bought her house--ownership of the home does not convey ownership of anything else.
Second, you do need to provide her notice and an opportunity to retrieve her belongings. As the lawyer suggested, send her 30-day written notice, sent multiple ways including ways you can prove delivery (e.g. certified mail, return receipt requested, and also regular mail simultaneously; if you have an email or fax number, email or fax it to), staring the facts (when you become owner; that she has left her belongings there without permission) and stating that she has 30 days to remove her items--and that if she not, you will remove them from your house (i.e. put them out for trash or pick-up; you cannot keep them). Then send her a follow-up reminder the same way at the 15-day mark. Then after that, if she does not get her belongings, set them out.
Note: in the interim, you don't have to leave them where she left them: you can pile them all into the garage or a guest or spare room. You have to keep them safe for 30 days, but it's your house; you can move her belongings around.