Widow Lost Her Home Due To Six Dollar Late Fee

Dated: March 18 2015

Views: 1305

54 year old widow, Eileen Battisti lost her husband in 2004to stomach cancer in 2004 in Pennsylvania. At his death her mortgage was paidoff. All she had to do was pay the annual taxes. 

 In 2009 she paid her property taxes six days lateaccruing a $6.30 late fee.  The following year she paid the late fee – endof story.

 No. Not so fast.

 Battisti said, “I paid what I was told to pay.” Whatthe bill didn’t show was she also owed the county $234.72 as a result ofinterest and other charges associated with the late fee.  This shortfallultimately prompted the local tax collectors in Beaver County, PA to sell herhouse in a tax sale.

 The owners of her house paid $113,000 at auction andthen offered to sell it back to her for $160,000 since she was still livingthere. If she didn’t buy it the owners wanted $2,500 a month for rent.

 Battisti was outraged and hired a private attorney tochallenge the county. After a long legal battle, a Pennsylvania appeals courtoverturned the sale of her house.  The current owners of her house askedthe Pennsylvania Supreme Court to review the case. Meanwhile this whole thingcost Battisti more than $30,000 in legal fees.

 I would like to say this was an isolated case, butaround the United States, aggressive taxing authorities are increasinglyseizing and selling homes as a way to generate revenue. This makes the elderlyextremely vulnerable because they have paid off their home trusting the taxcollectors to be honest and up front about how much they owe.

 Julie Nepveu, a senior attorney at AARP FoundationLitigation supported Battisti in her appeal.  Nepveu said, “I spent aweekend with Mrs. Battisti’s notices, and if I, as an attorney, couldn’tunderstand them, imagine how confusing it is for the average person.”

 For homeowners who face difficulties paying theirproperty taxes, there is help. Every state has abatement or exemption programsfor property taxes.  These programs consider full or partial relief totaxpayers because of their age, disability, income or personal status. Benefits are NOT automatic and require the homeowner’s initiative and drive tomake something happen.

So for the amount of lunch, $6.30, don’t get caughthomeless.

1 comments in this topic

  • Posted by Dana Jones
    Becky, I hope she gets her house back and I hope the tax people have to pay those people back with intererest and the original homeowner damages. People are getting rich off the simple mistakes and sorrows of others. They are also selling books and seminars sparking a hunger for people to buy homes that are auctioned off this way by tax rolls and by HOA lien sales. I just had this happen to me. For $4,900.00 a man has bought my house, that I am currently still paying a mortgage on, because the HOA changed hands and refused payment. There is more to the story but the HOA's think people just don't want to pay dues, but some make it impossible to pay and continue to add ridiculous fees for not paying, etc. Instead of a mechanics style lien the laws make it possible for these kind of people to take homes away from people. The bank says he can't, the law says he can, he says he wants rent instead of me paying the house payment and then he listed the house on the internet! I tried to get a realtor to sell it so I can pay off him and note and the title people say I cannot list without his permission! Are there any state agencies in Texas that could help us with this???

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