Bismarck, North Dakota; April 23, 2021: Gov. Doug Burgum signed legislation yesterday that ends the practice of home equity theft in the state. Previously, when a landowner fell too far behind on property taxes, state law authorized counties to take homes and keep the owners’ equity as a windfall.
In 2018, Kevin Juhl and his wife nearly lost their home and all their equity over a small tax debt. To return ownership of the home back to the couple, Pembina County demanded they pay $45,000, even though their initial debt with interest was a fraction of that amount.
“Home equity theft is unconstitutional, and we’re glad to see that North Dakota has chosen to amend its laws to protect property owners,” said Daniel Dew, director of legal policy at Pacific Legal Foundation, which championed the legislation. “The equity that people have in their homes is just as much their property as the home itself. We are grateful to the bill’s sponsor, Speaker Kim Koppelman, and other members of the General Assembly for protecting the rights of every North Dakota property owner.”
Pacific Legal Foundation is committed to ending the practice of home equity theft across the country. Last summer, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that home equity theft was a violation of property owners’ rights, and in 2019, Montana passed legislation to curtail the practice there.
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