The Recorder – Rebuttal by Columnist Al Norman: We Can Stop Home Property Theft Statewide

In February 1950, Phillip and Marion Woodbridge of New Jersey purchased a colonial-style home built in Greenfield in 1915. The finished space he had was 3,000 square feet with a total of 19 acres on the north end of Stoneridge Lane.

The home was family owned until October 2021, when the City of Greenfield took ownership and put it up for auction to collect unpaid taxes. “I’m glad I was able to collect my taxes, which was my only goal,” one city official told Recorder. The taxes were about $60,000, according to the company. The house sold for $270,000. The city had set aside 13 acres of land valued at $49,900 for public forest trails. Overall, the city earned approximately $260,000 in equity from this one-time “title acquisition” process.

Last April, I wrote about another Greenfield couple. The couple nearly lost their Victorian home to tax arrears, but managed to “redeem” it and amass a fortune roughly equal to Stone Ridge Lane’s fortune. Mitch Speight and Joan Marie Jackson, who robbed the house from the jaws of owner and title acquisition, are now helping me to stop Greenfield from what is known as “home property theft.” increase.

We recently met with the mayor to present a list of recommendations to end the practice of forcing property owners to pay many times the amount needed to make the entire city.

we suggested:

• Accounting firms should adopt a policy of fully compensating Greenfield for all delinquent property taxes, plus all collection costs, interest, and attorneys’ fees, but the City should will never ask you to pay more than you owe. No Home Equity in excess of what is required to make up an entire city shall be collected “fully voluntarily” as part of the delinquent tax process.

• The city has posted a page on the tax collector’s website to explain what ‘take title’ is, how the process works, what is at risk for property owners, and how to redeem a home. You should post a full description of how to do it in general terms.

• Instead of using the title law in land court, the city should pursue delinquent taxes in district court.

• If property tax bills are mailed, they must be accompanied by a letter explaining that if the acquisition of title results in a foreclosure, the taxpayer’s interest will be acquired by the City. Taxpayers do not receive more surplus assets than they need to make up an entire city. Even if the value of the property is many times the redemption amount, the taxpayer loses all the value of the property when a foreclosure judgment is entered.

• The city should enact ordinances that allow taxpayers to pay their taxes in installments before foreclosure proceedings are filed. This allows for standard repayment agreements between treasurers and taxpayers. By state law, such repayment agreements must be for five years or less in his term and cannot be forgiven more than his 50% of accrued interest on the taxpayer’s account. The contract also requires him to prepay 25% of the amount required to redeem the property. This creates a uniform repayment plan for all taxpayers.

• Greenfield tax collectors must provide the date, street address, all proceeds from the sale of the tax title, and the net surplus stock proceeds from the sale, beyond tax liabilities and collections, of each tax title in the city. An annual report detailing the case should be issued. cost.

• The Mayor and City Council should encourage our delegation to the General Court to pass the H. 3053 decision. The H. 3053 judgment returns surplus shares to the property owner or heirs, much like a bank foreclosure, after a forced sale of the property.

The company Greenfield hired to conduct foreclosure auctions is also used in Montague, New Salem, and Orange. We run 2,000 auctions each year in New England. One day in October 2020, the company put up for auction seven of his homes or land lots in Greenfield. The auctioneer has posted the following testimony from a Greenfield tax collector on its website. [the company] The process was so easy and the profit was bigger than expected. ”

Excessive profit-taking should be avoided. Every local government in the state has legal options to collect every penny owed to them, and nothing more.

Al Norman’s Pushback column appears on the third Wednesday of each month. Comments are welcome at [email protected].

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