Tracie and Myles Albert purchased their four-bedroom dream home in Riverside, CA only to find out at the end of escrow that due to a COVID eviction loophole, the seller refused to hand over the keys and move out of the home.
“It’s just draining, emotionally and financially,” stated Tracie. They bought the home through Real Estate Agent Chris Taylor over a year ago on January 31, 2020. They still don’t have access to their property. The owner had wanted to sell immediately.
“He needed $560,000 from the sale of his house in two weeks and he called me on a Sunday, so in traditional real estate there’s no way of doing that unless the buyer’s a cash buyer,” Taylor explained.
Enter the Alberts who thought they were getting a great deal because the house was free and clear. It was worth more than $560,000. They had no idea that their dream was about to become an ongoing nightmare. “It took us scrambling to get everything we had, our life savings put together, and a hard money loan on top of it to make that happen,” Myles recalled.
(Video Credit: Fox 11 Los Angeles)
The only thing that slowed the deal down was the discovery of a $30,000 tax lien on the house during escrow. In the end, that hurdle was overcome and the sale was finalized. In retrospect, that probably should have been a red flag on the deal.
“We own the house, outright. That’s our house and it’s all in a contract, written, legal, done. He’s been paid the money in his account. How could we have no rights to go into our home?” said Myles.
The former owner will not speak with the press or even come to the door.
Taylor decried the whole situation, “It’s genuinely unfathomable to me that we live in a state where something like this is even possible. They closed escrow on this home January 31, 2020.” The authorities have been contacted on the matter. But despite their efforts, due to the pandemic, nothing has changed.
“They have this case under a COVID tenant situation, of no evictions when it doesn’t fall under that at all. This transaction went through in January 2020 before any of that, it isn’t a renter who was getting thrown out. It’s the guy who collected all of this money,” bemoaned Myles.
Eviction Attorney Dennis Block claims this is becoming commonplace, “This year alone, we’ve handled at least 7 maybe 8 cases of this exact type of situation.”
According to Block, this could happen to anyone and buyers need to be especially careful when buying a home now.
“This person is not a tenant, it’s a previous owner who is enjoying the benefits of the money that was transferred to his account but of course doesn’t want to move out of the premises that he no longer owns,” Block declared.
Due to Governor Gavin Newsom’s California eviction moratorium, the case is in limbo. The house is now falling into disrepair and the couple is powerless to rectify the situation.
Tracie sadly noted, “I tried watering the lawn one time and he came out and ripped my sprinkler lines, ripped all the wires. The Palm trees are dying, everything was beautiful and everything is dying.”
Myles says the police told him, “If you were in Arizona, if you were in Nevada, this wouldn’t be a problem, you would just go take your house back. But in California, like our hands are tied, even though we’re on your side, there’s nothing we can do.”
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