How Does Someone Lose Their House Over A $474 Water Bill?

If a homeowner has to make a choice between paying their mortgage or paying a tax or public utility bill, they might feel like the mortgage is the obvious way to go, lest they lose their house. But the fact is that you may be putting your property at risk by missing any of these payments.

We recently told you about the woman in Georgia who has spent years fighting eviction because her county wrongfully placed a tax lien on her property more than a decade ago. But a new report from the National Consumer Law Center claims that tax lien sales are a growing problem for U.S. homeowners, especially the elderly.

Say you fall behind on your property taxes, or choose to make your car payment instead of the water bill. It doesn’t take much for some municipalities to file a tax lien against a homeowner, often a debt of only a few hundred dollars, says the NCLC.

Those liens are often sold to companies that tack on substantial interest rates starting in the 18% range, and upwards of 50%. These lien buyers also charge huge fees to redeem the liens and avoid foreclosure. According to the NCLC, redemption penalties in Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Texas all exceed 20%.

Seeing a potential for huge profits, lien buying is a $15 billion business in the U.S., and a number of state and local governments are eager to sell off these liens to bidders. The NCLC reports that in 2009, $1.8 billion of the $2 billion in Florida tax liens were auctioned off.

The NCLC report includes several stories of homeowners who lost their homes — or had to endure legal and bureaucratic battles — because of relatively small tax liens.

There is the Baltimore woman whose $362 water bill was sold off to a lien buyer. Interest and fees caused the amount to balloon up to $3,600. She couldn’t pay and lost her house.

An 81-year-old woman in Rhode Island owed $474 on her sewer bill. The tax lien buyer snatched up her lien for $836 and then made a huge profit by selling her house for $85,000.

A big part of the problem, says the NCLC, is that the laws regarding these sales are outdated and are not tied to current economic conditions. So while a savings account can barely score you 1% interest, tax liens provide disproportionately large returns on investment to lien buyers.

The group has called on state and local legislators to revise these laws, making it more affordable for people to redeem their liens and less attractive to predatory speculators.

“The consequences of homeowners not understanding their rights or the process of a tax lien sale is devastating for individuals, families, and communities,” says the NCLC’s John Rao. “To date, states have done very little. Will legislators and policymakers now reform their laws to help keep elderly and other homeowners from losing their homes due to a small property tax delinquency? We certainly hope so and the sooner they act to head off this swelling problem, the better.”

You can read the full report HERE [PDF]

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  1. coffee100 says:

    No person shall be deprived of … property without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

    • Cat says:

      What is this “Constitution” of which you speak?

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        He’s talking about the document that protects people from prosecutiion for talking like a crazy person. He appreciates that document greatly.

        • The Colonel says:

          What? I thought the Constitution was that thing that said you don’t have to buy health insurance?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Filing for a lien is due process of law. I guess I’m not sure where you’re getting at a real violation of the Constitution.

      • coffee100 says:

        “Filing for a lien is due process of law.”

        Huh?

        Fill out a form, take the house. Is that how it works now? Hey, why have laws or a Constitution at all? Just hand over all the property to the people who fill out the most forms. Just like the legalized car theft that is the towing industry. Leave a message with the cops, take the car, sell it and keep the money. The hell with the owner.

        Always nice to see people line up to shout down the Constitution too. Nothing draws loud opposition like quoting the Bill of Rights, huh? Big fuckin’ smile now.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          The owner gets notice of the lien, and can go to court to fight the validity of the lien.

          Again, how is this not due process of law? What process would you consider to be more correct?

          • dcatz says:

            As long as shysters hold a monopoly on the legal system, there will never be due process.

            Prior to the 20th century, it was common for people to handle their own business in court without having to hire a shyster. The law was simple enough for everyone to understand and was taught as a regular part of school curriculum.

            Today shysters write the laws and write them in convoluted terms that only other shysters can understand (and sometimes, they write them so complex that even THEY don’t understand them). Shysters use the coercive force of government to maintain an illegitimate monopoly on legal services; bar associations are little more than cartels. Free speech no longer applies to giving legal advice; it is illegal for me to give me opinion on the law even to a friend even with the disclaimer that I am not a shyster. Judges, as members of the cartel, will never make an impartial ruling and will always rule in favor of the cartel.

            The illegitimate government monopoly that shysters hold as well as their ability to write the laws to exclude the average person from understanding them allows them to charge whatever they one. If one does not have the money to pay the water bill, it stands to reason they do not have money to pay a shyster.

            Historically, laws that are vague or difficult to understand have been considered unconstitutional as not affording due process. This doctrine is called “void for vagueness”. Under the original interpretation of this doctrine, practically every law today would have to be thrown out. But you will never get the judges (robed shysters) to throw out the laws because they are members of the very cartel that writes them.

            • iesika says:

              Wow, you are one hate-filled human being. Just a tip – when you explode with five paragraphs of vitriol about things only tangentally related to the topic at hand, most people will stop listening to you even if they agree with you on some points.

              Yes, there are problems with the law and how it is written, and with the legal system. Yes, the courts are complicated and often require a guide to navigate.

              No, the ability of these sharks to purchase a lien on a $400 debt and then take someone’s house is not the fault of the Bar Association. In my field (and on this site) I see a lot of problems with foreclosure and debt collectors that could be resolved by comprehensive reforms on the rules for buying and selling of debt and for the assignment of fees and interest without contract.

              There are a lot of lawyers who work very, very hard to help people in this kind of situation, and do it for the lowest price they can.

              • dcatz says:

                “No, the ability of these sharks to purchase a lien on a $400 debt and then take someone’s house is not the fault of the Bar Association. In my field (and on this site) I see a lot of problems with foreclosure and debt collectors that could be resolved by comprehensive reforms on the rules for buying and selling of debt and for the assignment of fees and interest without contract. ”

                No but the inability of the average person to defend themselves in court is.

                Courts in this country are not based on fact or right or wrong but are based on which side can pull off the most technicalities. It is a game of picayune motions and arcane rules and the winner is not the person who is in the right but the person who can afford the most justice.

                Civilized countries :
                A.Have adopted the inquisitorial system and not the adversarial system.
                B.Place restrictions on discovery so that the party seeking the subpoena has to have it approved rather than forcing the opposing party to file a motion to quash.
                C.Use civil law rather than common law.
                D.Treat judges as a separate profession from lawyers.

                It is time for the US to join their ranks and to stop relying on a legal system that originated in the medieval times.

                I would point out that, had any of the people in the OP been able to afford proper legal representation, they wouldn’t have lost their house. Prevailing case law and equitable doctrine dictate that a person should not loose their primary residence as a result of a debt not directly related to it. Unfortunately, rather than doing the morally right thing, the judges will ignore the unless you specifically make that argument in your response. To add even greater insult to injury, even filing a response costs money. You have to pay money (and a lot of money) just to be able to RESPOND to a lawsuit or hope that the judge is kind enough to grant your motion to leave to proceed in forma pauperis (which is completely arbitrary with no established guidelines for just who exactly qualifies; it is completely at the whim of whatever robed lawyer happens to preside over your case).

              • jacobs cows says:

                Amen.

      • BradC says:

        Interest, payoff fees, foreclosure….what they got wasn’t a lien, it was a non-negotiated mortgage.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          He’s saying there’s not due process – while you might not agree with the result of the law, and I would agree in this case, it was still proper due process.

          The problem isn’t the process, but what the law allows as the result. If he wants to argue ANY portion of the Constitution, it should probably be cruel and unusual punishment. I don’t think it’s right that a $362 water bill can balloon to $3,600.

          • coffee100 says:

            “but what the law allows as the result”

            It violates the Fifth Amendment. No “due process” should allow the confiscation of a house over a $500 utility bill.

            Love it when people get all righteous and shit while they vigorously defend someone losing their house.

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Due_process

              You need to read up on the definition of due process.

              I’m not saying I agree someone should lose their house over $500. I’m not even saying it’s right on a moral or legal level. I’m saying Due Process is not the argument you should be making.

              • coffee100 says:

                You’re one of those last word guys, aren’t you?

                The ability to contest the lien is not due process. The homeowner does not have the ability to contest the foreclosure and sale of their house, because if they did, it wouldn’t happen. No jury on this planet would find in favor of a $474 lienholder, and yes, the homeowner has the absolute right to a jury trial under the seventh amendment to the Constitution.

                “An 81-year-old woman in Rhode Island owed $474 on her sewer bill. The tax lien buyer snatched up her lien for $836 and then made a huge profit by selling her house for $85,000.”

                No jury verdict? No due process. Case closed.

                • kathygnome says:

                  Are you suggesting that the constitution requires a jury trial to collect every unpaid bill?

                  • coffee100 says:

                    If there’s a lawsuit, yep. It’s right there in the text of the amendment.

                    Means all small claims court verdicts are unconstitutional too.

                    That Constitution is a bitch, isn’t it? What’s an even bigger bitch is everyone ignores it.

                    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                      You officially lost all credibility. You are not very knowledgable on the specifics of law at all.

                    • coffee100 says:

                      Oh, I’m sure you have some imaginative interpretation of the seventh amendment. It’s not that you just feel entitled to ignore the Constitution, you feel obligated to.

                      You are strenuously twisting the Fifth Amendment to re-define due process in terms as unfavorable to 81-year-old homeowners as possible, and now you are completely ignoring the seventh amendment by claiming there are nuances and details being overlooked by a law that says “shall be preserved.”

                      You just don’t like the Constitution. That’s fairly obvious by your authority worship. You prefer a world where the seventh amendment can be ignored when its inconvenient for the state. And that is why we have a nation where it is not only acceptable but encouraged for people to throw old women into the street and keep their house.

                      Doesn’t make it legal. It just makes it convenient.

                    • partofme says:

                      a) I love how your FIF amendment challenge has morphed into a seventh amendment challenge.

                      b) I love how you have not yet cited the text of the seventh amendment, instead opting to assert that it provides an “absolute right”. Of course, reading the text shows an immediate flaw in your reasoning… it’s not an absolute right if it doesn’t apply to matters under $20! But worse, there is a much more nefarious hole. What do the words “common law” mean? Do you just close your eyes and wish they weren’t there? Or do you recognize that there might be a difficult question here that cannot be answered in a Consumerist thread… and thus, SCOTUS has spilled much ink on the matter?

                    • coffee100 says:

                      Well, you see the fifth and seventh amendments are both part of this thing called the Constitution which recognizes a body of certain rights. Due process implies a jury trial, that’s why both are guaranteed.

                      “What do the words “common law” mean?”

                      Essentially it means anything that isn’t automatically the purview of a judge: interpreting a law or issuing writs. A foreclosure is undeniably a suit at common law.

                      Unless it’s modern-day America, and there’s property to be stolen. Then it’s whoever can shovel bullshit the fastest, and the first two loads get dropped on the fifth and seventh amendments.

                    • partofme says:

                      Yay Constitution! It’s great. Ok. Now, back to serious matters. “Due process implies a jury trial.” Where does the Constitution say that? It says, “In these cases, you must have a jury trial.” Ok, what about due process in all the other cases? Do they simply not adhere to your assertion?

                      You don’t think a foreclosure, in this case surely the product of a municipal or state statute, is a matter of statutory interpretation?

                    • coffee100 says:

                      “Yay Constitution! It’s great. Ok. Now, back to serious matters.”

                      Wow, you just summed up modern-day America in ten words.

                    • partofme says:

                      zOMG… I was parodying your implication that I don’t even know what the Constitution is. We have to get past such first-grade rhetoric if we’re going to actually use the Constitution.

                      Are you not even going to try to respond to the questions? Are you finally going to lay silent (with the exception of drive-by insults)? Are you finally realizing that your own interpretation ignores the text of the Constitution (and thus, the entire judicial history of the Seventh Amendment)? Wow. You just summed up modern-day whiny-bitches with all the words you didn’t say… ya know, the ones that would have presented a logical argument.

                • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                  “The homeowner does not have the ability to contest the foreclosure and sale of their house, because if they did, it wouldn’t happen.”

                  That’s an odd assumption – that simply arguing the forclosure in court means the forclosure must be invalid.

                  And you missed the part in the story about how a $500 lien gets fees and interest tacked on, inflating it into the thousands. This is not against the law, or against due process. The article goes on to explain that law regarding those interest rates and fees are out of date and not based in current reality. If you argued about that, you’d be right. But you arued that someone’s due process was violated, which it wasn’t. The problem here isn’t that due process was violated, but that the laws need to be changed to better reflect what actually happens in today’s world.

                  • coffee100 says:

                    Noted with due amusement you completely side-stepped the jury trial issue. Thanks for conceding the central point of the argument and in the process contradicting your entire line of reasoning.

                    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                      “You’re one of those last word guys, aren’t you?”

                    • Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

                      It’s not sidestepping when you’re pretty obviously talking out of your ass.

                    • coffee100 says:

                      Look at the fuckhats line up to shout down the Constitution, folks! Get those old women out of their houses. Throw ‘em all out!

                      While the old women are being dragged from their homes, I think I’ll sing…

                      “Oh beauuuuutiful for spaaaacious skies…”

                • Free Legal Advice! says:

                  “Due process” means the ability to take your dispute before a judge. Just beacuse these victims in this sotry didn’t excercise this option doesn’t mean it wasn’t afforded to them.

                  A lien is exactly like a mortgage. It is a legal document field with the clerk of court. To get out from under the lien the home owner must either come to some sort of agreement with the lien holder that results in voluntary dismissal, or must challenge the lien in court.

                  While these results may not be fair, they are perfectly legal, hence the law needs to be rewritten.

                • The Beer Baron says:

                  If I may interject into this lively debate, no, due process is not limited to a jury trial. In a civil action, which filing a lien for non-payment is, no jury trial is necessary. All that is necessary, according to assertions by the Supreme Court, is adequate notice, a hearing, and an impartial judge. That is all that is necessary to comprise Due Process. Please note that I am only addressing your incorrect assertion that one must have a jury trial to attain due process; I am not commenting on the specifics of this particular story.

                  While I certainly applaud the enthusiasm and obvious high regard in which you hold the Constitution of this great republic, I highly recommend that you not only familiarize yourself with the actual contents of the document, but also the many interpretations of the words used therein. By doing so you will avoid being thought a lout.

              • sagodjur1 says:

                From your citation:

                “Due process has also been frequently interpreted as limiting laws and legal proceedings (see substantive due process), so that judges – instead of legislators – may define and guarantee fundamental fairness, justice, and liberty. This interpretation has proven controversial, and is analogous to the concepts of natural justice, and procedural justice used in various other jurisdictions. This interpretation of due process is sometimes expressed as a command that the government must not be unfair to the people or abuse them physically.”

                It seems you are on one side of the stated controversy and Coffee is on the other. It doesn’t seem that Coffee’s use of the term is inaccurate in light of this controversial perception of due process.

                • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                  That interpretation is rarely used in the U.S. court system. You don’t see judges going against procedure as they see fit because they subjectively think something is unfair. Judges follow the state rul of law.

                  • coffee100 says:

                    “Judges follow the state rul of law.”

                    That’s why the Constitution guarantees trial by jury.

                    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                      http://members.mobar.org/civics/JuryTrial.htm

                      “Finally, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the states were also bound by the Sixth Amendment guarantee of a jury “in all criminal prosecutions.” This, however, is not an absolute guarantee. The court has found this right to apply only in situations where the crime is a serious one. Petty offenses are not included. If the offense carries a potential sentence of more than six months, it is a serious offense, and a jury must be made available on demand.”

                      You understand the literal definition, but not the meaning of it.

                    • coffee100 says:

                      “Finally, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled”

                      Oh yes, the Supreme Court, those stalwart defenders of the Constitution who engineered one of the most infamous larcenies in human history a scant 12 years ago.

                      Only they could interpret “all criminal prosecutions” to mean “only certain criminal prosecutions.”

                      By the way, this has nothing to do with criminal trials, but hey, everyone who wants to tear down the Constitution eventually jumps into the arms of one or more Supreme Court Justices, so there you go.

                    • chargernj says:

                      Actually, if the Supreme Court says something is Constitutional then it is Constitutional. Health Care Reform and Citizens United are good examples of how that works in real life, and both will take acts of Congress to overturn.

                • The Beer Baron says:

                  I would like to politely point out that the opposite side of this debate is coffee100, not Coffee. Coffee is a learned, upstanding, gentlemanly fellow of high moral character and honorable intention. coffee100 is coffee100.

  2. Mr. Stupid says:

    How Does Someone Lose Their House Over A $474 Water Bill?

    By not paying the bill. Grow up, America!

    • Gorbachev says:

      Yes, because it totally makes sense to lose your $85K house over a $500 unpaid bill.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        And why didn’t the homeowner keep the difference in price?

        If the bill was $500 and that means the collector was allowed to sell their home, the homeowner should keep all money after paying off the mortgage and the lien holder, in that order.

        • PunditGuy says:

          I thought exactly the same thing. According to the linked report: “In many states the property will be sold simply for the amount of the taxes owed, based on the bidding procedures used at tax sale auctions. Thus, a $200,000 home may be sold at a tax lien sale for $1,200.”

    • AstroPig7 says:

      Right, because the bill was certainly missed because of laziness and incompetence. There certainly could not be an unfortunate circumstance or mishap that caused this. I recommend reading up.

      • sagodjur1 says:

        No, no, no. Everyone knows that in these circumstances it’s clearly a case where the woman decided to buy a brand new iPhone and a $500 glittery case for her iPhone. There is no possible chance that anyone would have problems paying off bills because everyone in America is flush with cash and has great paying jobs that provide significant disposal income. There’s no possible way any scenario could rip me from my self-righteous, ignorant non-article-reading bias towards people who aren’t as privileged as I am with a good education and a job that pays well enough for me to buy that new iPhone and case. Oh, and I pay off my credit card bills every month and reap the benefits of reward programs that basically take money from the people who don’t make enough to pay off their credit card bills every month and give it to the ones who are already doing well, because I earned those rewards!

        /sarcasm

        The level of self-righteous judgment in these discussion boards has just gotten worse over the years. It seems like people have taken “don’t blame the OP” as challenge.

      • kathygnome says:

        Given how long it takes for it to get to that level and the age of the person in question, my guess is that it was probably someone suffering from cognitive issues.

      • PunditGuy says:

        Missing a bill could definitely be because of a mishap. No utility will start up these procedures over a single missed bill. If you continuously miss bills and don’t work something out with those you owe money to, what’s supposed to happen?

        • StarKillerX says:

          Exactly! Why are so many people acting like the bill was due on Wednesday and Thursday they sold the house.

          Also while loosing your house over a $454 water bill is horrible the question becomes, how much should you be able to own a company or government entity before they can take action to recover what you owe them?

          • crispyduck13 says:

            I can’t answer your question, but I think it should be illegal for 3rd parties to be able to sell your house for the exact amount of an unrelated debt. You’d think mortgage lenders would be all over this, because they are effectively getting screwed out of their investment as well. Or are they in on it somehow?

  3. Cat says:

    As I always said, if you want to know who REALLY owns your house, stop paying property taxes or government provided utility services.

  4. HalOfBorg says:

    You pay a fee? Don’t worry, we have a fee for that.

  5. 666isMONEY says:

    It’s my pic in this article. I’m in the tax lien business. I once got a house for only $400 because someone did not pay their improvement district tax/fee. The City sold me the lien. On these, all you have to do is send them a letter telling them to pay the tax . . . if they don’t pay it in 30-days, you get a deed from the city. About a year later, after I paid property taxes on the house (I never even looked at it), the previous owner called me and said, “you have my house.” I told him to just pay me the amounts I paid, plus $1000 and I’d sell it back to him. I’m sure others would-have thrown them out.

    I also buy property tax liens from the County (I live in Arizona) . . . here, you have to send them a letter, if they don’t pay, you file a lawsuit and serve them either in person (with a registered process server) or, if they live out of state, by certified mail . . . if they don’t respond or you can’t locate them, you have to publish the Summons in the newspaper. All you have to do to locate them is a few internet searches in online phone books and I also use Yahoo People Search, I also check the County Recorder’s records.

    If they have a mortgage on the property, you have to contact them too but I usually buy liens that don’t have mortgages because I like to get the property. One time I had two days to go before getting a house from a bank but they paid off. if I got the house, I’d probably take over the mortgage company’s payments and not kick the ppl out.

    I made a pretty good living at this but still have a conscience.

  6. patty says:

    how you lose a house due to a water bill. Date line Baltimore. Department of water sends you a bill that is significantly higher this billing period than last. Say going from $80 to $500. You do call the department of water (might be called public works) they say you have a leak, you reply you do not, they then decide that the water meter must be faulty, they need to come and check out the water meter. They never show up. You receive a message that it was checked and yes you owe $500 you dispute it and ask to speak to a supervisor. The matter goes into “Research Hell” they tell you they will send you an updated bill in two weeks. Two weeks goes by, no bill, you call they repeat “two weeks and you will receive a new bill.” Get stuck in this loop for a month or two. Finally you receive termination of service bill, you call, it will be two weeks. You then have to go to court. Of course there are several of them, you have to find the right court, fill out paperwork, pay a fee, have the people’s name, departments name, list of times you called and who you spoke to. Eventually if you are lucky you go to court, the judge asks for evidence sides with you but because of court delays, postponements your house is on the block to be sold and that is city living at its best. Go to Baltimore Sun (the sad what passes for a newspaper) and type in water bill. Let’s not also forget that Baltimore city is on the fast track downhill. But member of the city (mayor) are getting video phones, but closing down three fire stations.

    • RainyDay says:

      You call the Baltimore Sun “the sad what passes for a newspaper,” which I have to assume is a slight, and then use it as evidence of the nefarious way Baltimore city is stealing people’s homes over water bills. The process you describe is in fact not how it works. You request an informal hearing to dispute your water bill, which is usually scheduled with 2 months of the request. You show up on time, answer a few questions and your bill is adjusted.
      And please stop it with the video phones. 50 phones were purchased, 6 were video phones, and they were all for a pilot program as proof of concept for a VoIP system that would save the city millions of dollars a year.

  7. Extended-Warranty says:

    I have two people living in my house, have 4 bathrooms, and take showers every day. My water and sewer bill combined for an entire 3 month quarter has never exceeded $90.

    If you can’t afford your bills, you can’t afford to live in a house. It’s that simple. Most states have laws that with even foreclosures, the other party only gets to keep the money that is owed to them, any “profit” is returned to the original home owner.

    I’m sure there is way more to the story than a “$474 water bill.”

    • crispyduck13 says:

      But if they sell your house for $474 then I guess you the homeowner are shit out of luck.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      My house payment is cheaper than rent around here.

    • nybiker says:

      I’m guessing you don’t live in NYC these days (back in 2000, when I bought my house, my bill was certainly a 2-digit amount). There are a total of 2 people in my house. I guess that means your house and mine have the same number of people. 3 bathrooms. My bill (for water & the 159% sewer charge) from the good folks at NYC DEP hits $100 or so every three months and supposedly that’s the minimum bill. I think I used somewhere around 1,400 cubic feet of water for the most recent bill. I never water my lawn and I don’t wash any cars or hose down my sidewalk.

    • AtlantaCPA says:

      That’s awesome that your water is so cheap, just FYI in some places it’s more expensive. $474 is about 3-4 month’s worth of water bill for my 2 bath house. And we have a rain barrel that we use for the garden.

      I definitely agree that anything over the debt should go back to the homeowner. In a foreclosure if the sale comes up short you are often on the hook for the difference so the reverse should be true as well.

  8. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Here’s one for you – one of my coworkers refinanced her HELOC to a lower rate. The bank told her and her husband, no problem – you have excellent credit, and we’ll get this all done within a week. Fast forward to a month later. When the bank did a deed search, a $20,000 lien popped up. But, it turns out there really wasn’t a lien against their property. She was told the lien was not removed when one bank gobbled up another, and it was a paperwork thing left over from a previous loan that had been paid off years earlier.

    So – what happens if someone has a “fake” lien against their property, someone buys it, and somehow sells their home out from under them?

    • Cor Aquilonis says:

      Time to lawyer up and clean that deed! She’s screwed until she gets the lien off her deed, and it will probably take years and mucho dollars to get done. Good luck!

      And people wonder why I’m not wild about owning property…

  9. dush says:

    “Those liens are often sold to companies that tack on substantial interest rates starting in the 18% range, and upwards of 50%.”

    It should be illegal for a govt or monopoly utility to do that.

  10. HogwartsProfessor says:

    This is evil. Just plain evil.

  11. triana says:

    Consumerist stories have made me absolutely terrified to buy a house.

    I almost feel lucky that I’m so poor it’ll probably never be an option.

  12. jacobs cows says:

    I wonder if they ever shut off her water.