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Author: Christina Martin

June 14, 2019

How local governments are using foreclosure laws to steal people’s homes

A few years ago, my husband and I rented a car while visiting Italy. We had great fun driving to small towns off the beaten path. But about six months after we returned, I received a $250 ticket in the mail for accidentally driving onto a "locals only" road. If we had received the ticket ...

May 10, 2019

National coalition joins PLF against government-sanctioned home theft

PLF client Uri Rafaeli accidentally underpaid the property taxes on his Southfield Michigan house by $8.41. So Oakland County took Rafaeli's house to collect on the small debt. The County also took PLF client Andre Ohanessian's 2.7 acres of valuable land in Orchard Village to collect a $6,000 debt. The County sold both properties and ...

May 08, 2019

New Montana Law will save homes by ending state’s predatory tax foreclosure system

During the last recession, Gary Guidotti, a 78-year old electrician in Cascade County, Montana, fell behind on his property taxes. Under Montana's tax law, the county took his home because of the $1,125 tax debt and sold it to investors for pennies on the dollar. Guidotti lost everything while investors reaped a windfall—taking absolute title ...

March 29, 2019

Wayside Church case comes back to life in federal court

When Wayside Church fell behind on its 2011 property taxes on a parcel that the church had used as a youth camp, Van Buren County took the youth camp property and sold it for $206,000 to pay the church's $16,750 in taxes, penalties, interest, and fees. Similarly, the County kept the surplus proceeds—$189,250 more than ...

March 15, 2019

Proposed law would save homes from state’s predatory tax foreclosure system

In 2014, Uri Rafaeli was shocked to learn that his local government seized his $60,000 rental house to collect an $8.41 tax debt. Rafaeli had paid all his 2012 and 2013 property taxes, and first part of his 2014 obligation. But he had mistakenly underpaid his 2011 taxes by a few dollars. The county foreclosed ...

February 20, 2019

Supreme Court vindicates all Americans’ right to be free from excessive fines

Today the Supreme Court held that the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from being excessively fined by all levels of government in this country—not just the federal government. The decision in this case, Timbs v. Indiana, is a significant victory that limits the abusive use of fees and fines by state and local officials—abuse that frequen ...

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