If a house has been foreclosed on, is it legal to enter to obtain family pictures and keepsakes if the locks have been changed?

The locks were changed and the utilities are off.

Asked on March 19, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First, who changed the locks? If it was the sheriff (or similar law enforcement official), pursuant to a proper, court ordered eviction, then the lock out is proper. You should still be able to acess our belongings, and should first ask the current owner (presumably the bank) for permission; if they won't grant it, you wll need to bring a legal action to apply to the court.

However, if the locks were not changed on your pursuant to a court-ordered eviction--or if they were changed by the bank or other private entity, not government officials--then the lock out may be illegal and you may be entitled to access and possibly to monetary damages. Only the sheriff (or similar official) may lock out, and only pursuant to a proper eviction after  court order. If this is not what happened, consult with an attorney--you may have a lawsuit to bring.

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