BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Jacques Dobson says he’s been fighting for more than 10 years to get his property in Zachary back after he says his mortgage company, Southern Funding, failed to pay his property taxes back in 2010.
“They closed their doors, and I was sending my payments in and they were just coming right back, and I called them on the phone and the phone was just disconnected and everything, so I didn’t know what to do,” said Dobson.
Dobson later found out the owner of the company had been arrested and sentenced to 6-years in prison for bank fraud, but Dobson says he had already paid more than 23-thousand dollars into his escrow account for taxes and insurance on his nearly 12 acres of land.
“They were supposed to pay it. I was paying like $2,000 a month, and they were supposed to pay it; but later I found out William Nichols went to jail, and everybody just started coming in on me you know getting what they could get,” said Dobson.
Dobson says he attempted to pay the taxes, despite never getting his money back, but he says he was too late. The property had already been auctioned off in a tax sale. He claims he never received notice.
“It’s hard. I think about this every day and every night I do; I think about it. And it’s just wearing on me and, I don’t know how this could have happened I mean cause I was paying them $2,000 a month to pay my escrow and I’m just lost for words,” says Dobson.
Dobson has filed several unsuccessful lawsuits over the last decade to reclaim his property.
However, property disputes are not uncommon. Here are a few things you need to know if you find yourself in a situation where your property is in jeopardy because of unpaid taxes.
-Before a property goes up for auction, the tax collector must provide a notice of the sale. Be aware this notice can be mailed, and even if you do not receive it physically, the sale is still valid as long as the collector demonstrates a reasonable and diligent effort to provide the notice.
-Stop the sale from happening by paying the amounts due up until the day before the actual sale.
-Redeem your property after a tax sale. the redemption period is three-years in Louisiana. you will have to pay the amount the property was auctioned for, the owed tax balance and, a five-percent penalty.
-It may be a good idea to seek legal advice. Dobson says he can no longer afford to seek council on his own; however, lawyers are required to provide up to 50 hours of free council per year. You can check with a bar to request help.
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