Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Wayne County Profited $107,000 By Repossessing Homes Over a $144 Tax Debt. Is This Legal?

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Image credit: WDET/Laura Herberg

A new lawsuit brought by the Perez family who owned the homes are challenging a controversial home equity theft policy.

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There’s a new lawsuit challenging Michigan’s predatory home equity theft policy, which allows counties to take property to settle back taxes, sell it, and pocket all the proceeds from the sale — an amount that’s often many times larger than the initial debt.

After years of saving, the Perez family bought a property in Detroit containing a four-unit home and a single-family home in a working-class neighborhood.

The Perez’s had unknowingly underpaid their 2014 property taxes by $144. To settle that debt, Wayne County took the homes and sold them for $108,000, keeping every penny from the sale. After the sale, the Perez family lost all their equity in the houses while the county pocketed more than $107,000.

How is this happening, and is there room, legally, to fight this?

David Deerson, an attorney from the Pacific Legal Foundation who focuses on property rights and the First Amendment, is representing the Perez family.

Deerson speaks with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson about the case and the larger issue of home equity theft.

Click on the audio player above to hear property rights attorney David Deerson discuss a home equity theft lawsuit on Detroit Today. 


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