Writ of assistance: A court order instructing law enforcement to execute an eviction.
Writ of assistance: A written order issued by a court instructing a law enforcement official, such as a sheriff or a tax collector, to perform a certain task, such as eviction.
Writ of Assistance: Court Order for Forcible Removal
A writ of assistance is a court order instructing law enforcement to aid in obtaining possession of property.
A sample writ of assistance will state the following:
This notice is to inform that EVERYONE and all of your PERSONAL PROPERTY MUST BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY. Deputies will respond and verify that everyone has left the residence. RENTERS: YOUR LANDLORD WILL BE ABLE TO THROW AWAY (DISPOSE OF) YOUR PERSONAL PROPERTY IF YOU DID NOT REMOVE IT.
FORECLOSURES: The Sheriff’s Department WILL contract with a moving company and remove your property. You will be civilly liable for the cost of the movers. Before you can retrieve your personal belongings, you will have to pay all storage costs incurred.
If you leave property that you do not want, a WAIVER to abandon that property provided by the Sheriff’s Department SHOULD be signed by you in the deputy’s presence. You may make arraignments by calling the number below. This could save you from any further moving costs.”
Every state has their own guidelines, when it comes to requesting, ordering and executing a writ of assistance.
In Kansas, for example, “Upon the expiration of the redemption period, the holder of the certificate of purchase may submit the certificate of purchase to the Sheriff and request a deed. The Sheriff will issue the deed and that deed should be recorded with the Register of Deeds. If the borrower is still living in or using the property the owner as stated in the deed may obtain a writ of assistance wherein the court will command the Sheriff to remove them from the property,” according to Parsons attorney Lucas J. Nodine.
Buyers who purchase foreclosed properties may also require a writ of assistance to remove tenants that were renting the property from the former homeowner.
In these cases, a writ of assistance allows the sheriff’s department to forcibly remove tenants from the premises within 10 days if they do not voluntarily leave. The owner may not forcibly remove tenants on their own, but must follow the legal eviction process in Kansas, which allows only the sheriff to remove a tenant.
The owner is also not allowed to shut off the utilities, change the locks, or otherwise harass or intimidate a tenant into leaving. If an owner engages in this behavior, the tenant is free to sue for damages. Any personal property left behind following an eviction must be stored for 30 days. If the tenant does not claim the property and pay storage costs within 30 days, the owner has the right to keep or sell the belongings.
According to Massachusetts Legal Aid, “Even if you have lost your case and received a 48-hour notice from the constable or sheriff there is one last legal avenue you can use to try to get more time. A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) is a civil action you can file in court requesting emergency postponement of the constable’s move out. When granted, a typical TRO is for only 10 days. It may be extended at the court’s option (but this is unusual).
To request a TRO:
- Go to the court in which your eviction case was heard and bring the constable’s 48-hour notice with you.
- Find the housing court clerk or the civil clerk’s office. Request an immediate hearing to stop the constable’s move-out.
- Fill out any forms the clerk says are necessary.
- If you cannot afford the fee for the TRO, ask the clerk for an Affidavit of Indigency form and fill it out completely.
- The court will usually call your landlord to come into court that same day for an immediate hearing.
“During the hearing tell the judge why you need more time to move out and if there is someone who is elderly or disabled in your household. If you have a place to go, but need more time to voluntarily move out, the court is more likely to grant you some additional time. Bring any evidence about your new living arrangement to show that you will be able to move if given more time. If you do not have a place to move to, explain to the judge why becoming homeless will be dangerous for you or your family.”