Steven Schroeder formerly owned a 200-acre ranch in Stevens County. When he defaulted on the loan, Excelsior Mortgage filed an action to judicially foreclose its deed of trust and, eventually, negotiated to foreclose nonjudicially. The nonjudicial foreclosure process culminated in a trustee’s sale at which Excelsior purchased the property. Following the purchase, Schroeder did not remove his personal property, including vehicles, appliances, and several livestock. Excelsior therefore filed a motion requesting an order allowing it to dispose of the personal property and to use the proceeds first to pay the cost of selling the property and second to offset the outstanding judgment against Schroeder. The trial court granted that motion.

The Court of Appeals affirmed:

  • The Deed of Trust Act, RCW 61.24 authorizes summary proceedings to obtain possession of real property where a defendant found in unlawful detainer does not voluntarily vacate. The sheriff’s authority in such a proceeding extends to removing a defendant’s personal property from the premises.
  • Here, the process for disposing of property ordered by the trial court was largely adapted from a residential landlord’s rights and duties to store, sell, or dispose of personal property left behind by an evicted tenant (RCW 59.18.312).
  • Excelsior’s motion did not assert any new claim or different rights. It simply asked the trial court to approve a procedure by which it could effectuate the judgment to which it had already proved it was entitled: a judgment for restitution of the premises (RCW 59.12.170).
  • While the unlawful detainer provisions identify the writ of restitution as the ordinary means for enforcing a court’s award of possession, they do not prescribe the terms of the writ or deprive the court of authority to enforce its judgment by other means.

The court also granted Excelsior request for attorney fees on appeal as authorized by the deed of trust and RAP 18.1(d).

Read the October 18, 2012 opinion