Monday, April 11, 2016

Failure To Provide Proper Notice Of Tax Foreclosures At Center Of Multiple Lawsuits Plaguing Detroit-Area Municipalities; One Title Insurer Takes Allegations Seriously Enough To Temporarily Suspend Insuring Title To Area's Tax-Foreclosed Homes

In Wayne County, Michigan, The Detroit News reports:
  • Wayne County is spending up to $18.6 million warning property owners they face tax foreclosure, but lawsuits allege the office is doing such a poor job that some owners aren’t aware they’ve lost homes until it’s too late.
    ***
    The Wayne County treasurer’s office has processed more than 100,000 foreclosures in the last decade. State law requires officials to reach out to anyone with possible interest in the properties when it is headed to foreclosure — through first class and certified letters, newspaper notices and personal property visits, including posted notices if no one is home.

    A handful of lawsuits contend those notifications don’t always happen: Certified letters are listed “in transit” more than two years after being mailed, while owners allege they never got a foreclosure notice from the company tasked with personally visiting properties.

    18 families have sued Wayne County and several suburbs in federal court, alleging the foreclosures are illegal because the owners didn’t receive notices and believed they had more time to pay taxes and save their properties. All face possible eviction.
    ***
    [I]n the wake of the notification allegations, one company, California-based First American Title Insurance, moved to temporarily refuse to insure deeds on tax-foreclosed homes in Wayne County this year.

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