Wayne County Suing 22,700 Homeowners for Not Paying Taxes

The Wayne County Treasurer's Office wants to recover an estimated $80 million it says is owed on the properties sold at auction in 2011.

Wayne County Treasurer's Office Suing over 20,000 homeowners
Wayne County Treasurer's Office Suing over 20,000 homeowners

Buyers of 22,700 properties owe the government about $80 million and the Wayne County Treasurer’s Office is suing to recover the houses, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Most of the properties in question sold for at least $500 in the delinquent tax auction, and nearly 80 percent of them are in Detroit. The buyers will be served with a notice of the suit.

A rules change in 2013 allows the government to accelerate the process to repossess homes sold at auctions if they aren’t demolished or secured, or if taxes aren’t paid within six months, Wayne County Deputy Treasurer David Szymanski told the Free Press.

It typically takes homeowners three years of unpaid taxes for a house to fall into foreclosure.

Szymanski said that when people neglect homes after purchasing them, it does nothing to revitalize Detroit neighborhoods.

“The devastation of the neighborhoods was palpable,” he told the Free Press. “It used to be that if you were living in a neighborhood and the house next to you was dilapidated, you had to wait three years for it to cycle again into tax foreclosure. We determined (the new clause) was the best way to break the cycle.”

A hearing will be held for home buyers in July. Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz expects homeowners to ask for more time to pay their outstanding balances. But if agreement can’t be reached on how they will satisfy the debt, the properties will be seized and returned to the Wayne County Land Bank or the Detroit Land Bank.

» Read the complete story on the Detroit Free Press.


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