Congratulations! You are the proud new owner of a property won at a tax deed auction, but are you in possession of your new property yet? Finding out whether the tax-deeded property is occupied or not can be as simple as driving by, checking the electric meter, or even knocking on the door. If those aren’t obvious indications of occupancy, then post notices on the premises with your contact information and send tracked mail that requires a signature.
Best-case scenario is your new property is vacant and you are free to take possession immediately. But if the property is still occupied by the former owners or their tenants, there are various approaches you can take to resolve this.
If possible, a peaceful approach is the best place to begin and it might save you a ton of time, money, and court date stress headaches. Before resorting to legal action, try working with the occupants to negotiate a solution that benefits both parties, such as offering ‘cash for keys’. One tax deed investor shares his experiences with this approach on a BiggerPockets.com Forum: “I am often amazed how I can knock on a door and say I am the new owner and the tenants let me in and tell me what I want to know.” Often times these people are in a tough situation and are looking for options, so treating them with respect may offer a quick and mutually beneficial solution.
If peaceful negotiations are unsuccessful, rest assured there is legal recourse available for taking possession of your tax deed property; whether a writ of possession, sheriff’s involvement, or even an eviction proceeding. The best course of action depends on your situation, and the process can vary from county to county. As such, we recommend to always consult with a local real estate attorney for the best option in the particular county you are working in, and to make sure you are taking the appropriate action to obtain possession of your tax-deeded property in the most expeditious way possible.
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