If the former owner does not vacate willingly, you will have to go through an eviction process similar to the one for tenants. Technically, it is called an unlawful detainer action, but you will find information under both names.
You cannot simply throw people’s belongings out on the street, or you might find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit asking for damages against you. You might think you can carefully pack up the former owner’s goods, deliver them to a self-storage place, pay the first month’s rent, and let the former owner know where his or her stuff is located. While it might seem sensible, is also illegal in most states.
Instead, you will have to file a lawsuit and obtain a court order against the former owner. The order will give him or her a certain number of days to vacate the property. If the former owner does not do so, he or she will be in contempt of court. At that point, the judge usually orders local law enforcement to assist the former owner in leaving.
Again, the law is vastly different from state to state. It can also be extremely tricky. If you are up against someone knowledgeable, he or she might be able to hold you up for many months. Worse yet, the former owner might wait for you to make a mistake and then sue you for damages. Consult a good attorney if you find yourself having to get rid of a former owner. To educate yourself beforehand, you might want to check out some of these online resources.
• Apartments USA has a website with loads of information about landlord/tenant issues (and eviction law) for each state.
• The Chiff.com directory, which pays for itself through advertising, has excellent resources about each state’s eviction laws.
• The National Landlord Tenant Guides website is also very helpful.