In Rich Elfers’ recent column (Courier-Herald, Feb. 13) he refers to many of our large financial institutions and all of the ways that they seem to be above the law, but over the last several weeks I have experienced just how pervasive financial institutions are in our everyday lives.
I have a relative in another state who has fallen into some financial difficulty regarding her home. She just recently came into enough money to pay her home off and that was great news. Her problem lies in the fact that a financial institution has purchased her delinquent back taxes which she was oblivious that she owed for reasons that have not been made completely clear to me. Part of this problem may be the fact that her mortgage was sold three times in one year (2005) and the mortgage company may or may not be responsible for the fact that her back property taxes were not paid as they were supposed to be included in her payment; the other part is her fault for not paying her sewer and trash collection fees for several years which were added to the tax bill.
As she is considering selling and moving to another state, I first thought it might be a valuable lesson for her to have the decision taken out of her hands and lose a few thousand dollars for her inattention to her own financial situation. But after several conversations with the treasurer’s office I realized that she would indeed not just lose the $5,000 to $10,000 that the bank has put up, but for that paltry sum this bank can literally take her house and leave her with nothing. A house that is worth $120,000-plus can be taken from her with no compensation whatsoever.
I was at first stunned and then dumbfounded how a state legislature could possibly have put such laws on the books in the first place and how they can be allowed to stand. I don’t know how many states have such laws and I understand why the government would allow a bank to purchase delinquent taxes and even force the sale of said property; what I don’t understand is the legalized theft of the property with no compensation to the deed holder.
Our government has gone after payday lending institutions for predatory lending practices but this practice is far worse then the worst loan shark that ever broke someone’s leg for nonpayment. Wouldn’t we all enjoy a 2,000 percent return on a $5,000 investment? And government-sanctioned, no less.
In my opinion the people who passed these laws should be in prison. We supposedly elect public officials to act in our stead for the good of society as a whole. I fail to see how these sort of laws do any good for anyone except the banks. Why any company or individual would be allowed to do such a thing is unconscionable.