How Long After Foreclosure Before I Must Move Out? Print E-mail
Written by Kerry S. Doolittle   
Thursday, 12 December 2013

My home was recently foreclosed on and I simply want to know, under Georgia law how much time do I rightfully have to move? 

In order to obtain legal possession after a foreclosure sale the bank (or purchaser at the sale) will need to initiate a dispossessory or eviction proceeding.  The timing of that process works like this:

You are served with an Affidavit of Dispossessory. 
Week One.  You have seven calendar days to file an answer.  To maximize your time, hand deliver an answer to the court on the 7th day.  (I strongly recommend hand delivery in any event.  If you fail to file an answer on time, a writ of possession can issue as early as the 8th day and you can be physically evicted immediately.)
Week Two.  Once you file an answer, the court will schedule a hearing, usually about one week later.  Attend this hearing.

Week Three.  The court will issue an order that the bank is entitled to possession at the hearing, but legally that order is not effective for seven days (assuming you attended the hearing, otherwise a default writ of possession can issue immediately). 

Once the writ is effective, the bank must schedule the eviction with the Sheriff's office, which may take a day or a few days depending on the jurisdiction.

Thus, from the date you are served, you will have about three weeks to move out.  Before you are served, each day is a gift.  Make the most of them.  

Week Four?  Banks usually file Dispossessory proceedings in Magistrate Court.  Magistrate Court rules require the parties to attempt a settlement prior to the Judge hearing the case.  Some judges are more by the book, while others expect the parties to work out a solution.  Often you may be able to negotiate an extra week or two.  A voluntary move out is easier for the bank than a physical eviction, and nobody really wants to physically evict anyone.  It is not pleasant.  You will not be able to negotiate an extra month or two under any circumstances.  You may be able to stretch it close to three weeks depending on how the dates work out on the calendar, but do not expect even that much extra time.
In short, now is the time to begin planning your move, packing and setting aside funds to cover rent, deposit and moving expenses.  Do not wait.  Waiting will not improve the outcome.  You will suffer less stress if you proceed to move out at your first opportunity rather than waiting for a court imposed deadline.  But, hopefully, understanding the timing of the process will ease your worries a little.
Recently, I see a trend where the real estate agents / banks are beginning to allow some former owners to rent the home for a short time, usually on a month to month basis, while they are trying to sell the home.  When this occurs it is usually motivated by a desire to keep the property occupied because a vacant property attracts vandalism and damage from lack of maintenance.  This option is still sufficiently rare that I do not recommend attempting to rely on the possibility.  The better course is to execute a plan to move.

Good Luck,

Kerry Doolittle 


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