Law librarians and lawyer know that few, if any, answers to legal “questions” are “online.” “Laws” are online (e.g. the ORS), but answers to legal problems are not; answers require research, study, synthesis, conclusions, negotiation, more research, study, and great leaps of faith, not to mention luck. (An appellate attorney in the family doesn’t hurt either, especially one who owes you a favor.)
This question, about vacating property, we got the other day, along with about a zillion other bankruptcy, foreclosure, interest rate, credit card, and debt related questions. Welcome to 2009.
So, when DO you have to vacate your house after the foreclosure auction?
At first blush it appears that the answer should be printed in the homeowner’s foreclosure paperwork. But it’s often not. There are reasons for this, and those vary depending on the nature of the foreclosure and the jurisdiction.
My public law librarian response:
1) You may need to talk to a lawyer, and I highly recommend that you do, but many of our patrons wouldn’t be where they are, at a foreclosure auction, if they could afford a lawyer, so try these other suggestions first.
2) It depends – of course it does! Doesn’t everything? It depends on what takes place before, during and after auction, it depends on whether or not the house is actually sold at auction, it may depend on who the buyer is, on whether or not a notice to vacate is filed, on whether the sale was properly authorized, etc., etc., etc. It depends ….
3) The next best first step if you don’t have a lawyer is to talk to someone who knows Oregon foreclosure law. A number of nonprofit agencies have counselors who may be able to answer the question. Have your paperwork handy for the counselor to review. Your law library or public library or even your State Legislator will be able to refer you to a local housing foreclosure counseling service.
4) You may also check with a Legal Aid Services of Oregon office. They may be able to help or they can help you find an attorney who can advise you.
5) Your county law librarian may have other resources to recommend.
6) And, for those who want an exercise in frustration, try to answer this question using the ORS. Yes, an answer is there (sort of), but you’re a better person than most if you can find it. Actually, the full answer will require looking at several statutes, and you’ll need to know which parts of which statutes apply to your specific situation, but at least part of the answer really is there. (Hint, using the print ORS is a lot easier than using it online. Many Oregon public libraries have the ORS in print.) But, the reality is, each person’s situation is unique and you may have more rights than you think, or fewer.