In New Fairfield, Connecticut (or neighboring Brewster, New York, depending on what side of the house you're in), The Stamford Advocate
- Plans to build a shed on her half-acre property led Rosanne Di Giulio to a shocking discovery.
She learned her neighbor owned 0.2 of an acre of her property, including most of her house and front yard.
"I thought I was going to be sick to my stomach," Di Giulio said Thursday. "I cried hysterically. Then I got a hold of myself."
Di Giulio's property straddles Putnam and Fairfield counties, with 0.2 of an acre lying in Brewster, N.Y. Putnam County conducted a delinquent tax auction in 2010 that led her neighbor, Althea Jacob, to purchase the 0.2-acre parcel for $275.
On the heels of her 2013 discovery, Di Giulio, 52, petitioned the court to get her property back. After 17 months of legal wrangling, a solution may be near.
The banks that held her mortgage -- the same financial institutions she thought had been paying the taxes -- are negotiating a deal to pay the neighbor for the Brewster parcel. In return, as a third-party recipient, Di Giulio would get her property back, according to her attorney, Michael Caruso, of Carmel, N.Y.
Caruso said they will be in court next Friday. Di Giulio is asking to have the "clock turned back" on her Putnam County property taxes, he said.
"This is all subject to a ruling on reasonableness," Caruso said. "Did the county act properly and did the county communicate properly with another county in another state about what was happening?"
Michael B. Karlsson II, of Wm. G. Sayegh, P.C., is representing Jacob and said his client saw a sign posted on a tree on the Brewster parcel. The sign was a notification about the tax auction and Jacob acted to "protect her home," he said.
"You don't know who is going to buy a parcel," Karlsson said. "She did what anyone would do and bought it. Who would have known that half of Ms. Di Giulio's house was included with the parcel?"
Di Giulio claims Putnam County never notified her about the delinquent Brewster taxes.
She refinanced her mortgage in 2004 and again in 2006, entering an agreement with the banks, American Homes Servicing and Chase Mortgage Services, to pay into an escrow account that was supposed to finance the Putnam County taxes, Di Giulio said.
Di Giulio filed a petition in September 2013 to overturn the foreclosure, citing lack of notice and breach of contract by the lenders.
New York Superior Court Judge Victor Grossman last March denied Di Giulio's petition to invalidate Jacob's deed and he ordered the Putnam County finance commissioner to provide proof that a foreclosure notice was sent to Di Giulio. The judge dismissed the liability claims against the lenders.
Calls to Putnam County Deputy Attorney Andrew Negro were not returned.
Tax records indicate vacant land for the 0.2-acre parcel at 46 Hudson Drive in Brewster, N.Y. The records for the 0.3-acre portion of the property at 62 Hudson Drive in New Fairfield indicate improved property and tax the house.
Karlsson said this is not unusual when a property straddles two states. It is an agreement often reached between the states.
"My client had no animosity toward Ms. Di Giulio," Karlsson said. "She's done nothing wrong."
However, Di Giulio believes Jacob had hard feelings toward her prior to buying the Brewster parcel.
Di Giulio pointed to an earlier disagreement when Jacob encroached on her property. Di Giulio said she reacted by installing a chain-link fence down the middle of Jacob's driveway to properly mark the property line.
"She'd widened the gravel driveway over the years, encroaching on my property when the previous owners had it," Di Giulio said.
New Fairfield property records show a $5,107.02 tax lien on Di Giulio's property filed last September by the state of Connecticut.
Di Giulio said Thursday she had difficulty paying bills after she was laid off from a previous job. The state tax lien on the New Fairfield parcel will be paid with her 2014 income tax refund expected this spring, she said.
Di Giulio is a former employee of The News-Times, a sister paper of The Advocate.
Source: Tax auction spurs turf war between neighbors (Tax auction pits neighbor against neighbor)
See also, New York Post: Woman loses half of her border-straddling home in tax snafu
- Rosanne Di Guilio’s kitchen, living room and porch now belong to her neighbor Alethea Jacob, 52, who snatched up .2 acres of the half-acre plot for $275 at a county auction after it went into foreclosure in 2010.
“It’s sickening. She’s an opportunist. How do you sleep when you do something like this?” said Di Guilio, a 52-year-old electrical contractor who lives in Brewster, NY, or New Fairfield, Conn., depending on which side of the house she’s on.
Rosanne Di Guilio’s survey blueprints show the the dividing line between Patternson, New York and New Fairfield, Connecticut.
Di Guilio, who is fighting the foreclosure in court, said Jacob demanded $150,000 when she tried to buy back the house after she learned of the tax snafu in 2013.
She insists Jacob schemed for access to her property to avoid fixing her own leaky septic tank. “I believe she bought it to be able to use [my] septic. It would be thousands of dollars to fix her own,” fumed Di Guilio, who has owned the home since 1997.
Chase will take responsibility for the cost Di Guilio will have to pay to buy back the property, she said. Jacob and the bank are still negotiating a price.