When can I change the locks on a home I purchased?

UPDATED: Feb 16, 2012

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When can I change the locks on a home I purchased?

I purchased a mobile home last week. The previous owners stated that they would be out several days ago. However, they are still there. I have advised them twice this week they need to go by tomorrow at the very latest. Do I need to go through the eviction process through magistrate court or can i just change the lock?

Asked on February 16, 2012 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't simply change the locks, unfortunately. If they are not and have never been tenants of yours (for example: you did not agree to rent to them for a time following your purchase of the home), I believe that the proper action to bring is what's called an action for ejectment--it is similar, but not identical to, an eviction action (which is something brought by a landlord against tenants). You should retain an attorney to help you; the lawyer can discuss the facts in detail with you and determine the best way to get the former owners out.

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