If I just bought land and was told at closing that a single wide trailer on property is still titled to someone else, what do I do?

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If I just bought land and was told at closing that a single wide trailer on property is still titled to someone else, what do I do?

Bank offered title holder 1000. for it. Which was more than fair given its condition. She declined stating she planned to rent it out. It has been stripped down and torn apart, nothing of value left, nothing left unvandalized. I was told it would take more than $30,000 to rehab it. Her husband and her were both arrested and taken from the property at some point. There is evidence that suggests they were making methamphetamine there. So I’m concerned she’s not going to be very reasonable to deal with. In addition, I was wondering if we are allowed,legally to clean up all the garbage and broken junk and disassemble wood decking. It’s not part of the trailer. It’s a hazard because all that trash will draw rodents, which draws snakes. I have my grandkids safety to consider.

Asked on April 13, 2018 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) If you own the land, you can force the trailer off it--you have NO obligation to allow her to keep it there, unless you have some lease or other contract letting her rent space, etc. from you. You cannot simply remove it yourself, unfortunately, but have to go through the courts, most likely by filing a kind of legal action traditionally called an action "for ejectment" (though your state may have a different name for it),  which is a court case that results in an order requiring anyone who does not have a legal right to land (e.g.is not an owner, not a spouse of the owner, and not a rent-paying tenant) to leave. This kind of action is not particularly difficult to win, but is "technical": a small procedural mistake can force you to start over. Let an attorney help you; a landlord-tenant attorney should know how to do this. In this action, they can be forced to either remove the trailer or have it deemed abandoned (if they leave it behind) so that you can dispose of it.
2) You can throw out pure "garbage," but cannot throw out something which may be of some value and which belongs to people on your land, at least not until you remove those people.  Throwing out something of value can leave you liable to them for its value. The best way to proceed is to remove the people and their trailer first, at which point anything they don't take, you can dispose of. Good luck.


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