A MASSACHUSETTS law has put locals who are behind on taxes or bills at risk of losing their homes.
Some legal experts have dubbed the practice “stock theft,” but another attorney has refuted that claim.
The law allows state or city governments to foreclose on a property through the establishment of a tax lien WCVB.
This process can be performed even if a small amount is owed.
The city or state can then sell the property and even keep any profits.
Through this law, a woman in Worcester, Massachusetts, was deprived of her home where she had lived for 26 years.
Nancy Rodriguez’s duplex, estimated to be worth $300,000, was foreclosed after she was forced to quit her job as a warehouse worker at TJ Maxx due to health issues.
Rodriguez subsequently owed the City of Worcester $2,656 after defaulting on her taxes.
The City of Worcester sold the tax lien to an auction debt buyer named Tallage for $3,370.
Rodriguez was later forced out of her home by Tallage after she sent her an eviction notice last October.
“I am being evicted from my own home. I couldn’t believe what happened.”
“I was just packing my boxes and we started putting my stuff away.”
She claimed the City of Worcester never informed her that she had sold her tax lien to Tallage.
Rodriguez said, “I called City Hall. I wanted to find out where I was with taxes and how to fix this situation.”
“They never told me I’m not the owner.”
A legal team has filed a lawsuit against the City of Worcester, the City Treasurer and Tallage.
The lawsuit was filed by Todd Kaplan and his team of attorneys at Greater Boston Legal Services and concerned the Rodriguez case.
Kaplan said: “It’s a process that doesn’t make sense. And it is a process aimed at people who are particularly vulnerable.
“It’s just wrong.”
Tallage’s owner, Bill Cowin, did not comment, but her attorney, Dan Hill, spoke to him WCVB.
Hill explained that the term “stock theft” used by some legal experts to describe this process is incorrect.
He said, “The word ‘theft’ is a derogatory word that suggests something is done illegally.” And in fact, nothing happened illegally.”
Hill also argued that this law was a benefit to city and state finances.
He said: “I think Tallage has helped communities tremendously.
“Tallage recognized that this is a win-win for everyone as it provides a service for municipalities to principally assign their tax liens and get paid in full without the delays and costs actually associated with filing a lawsuit in a district court would be. ”
Rodriguez says she is on trial and fighting the practice for herself and others.
She said: “I don’t want anyone to go through what I’m going through. That’s why I’m fighting this fight, not only for myself but also for other people.”
Worcester City officials declined to comment when asked WCVB and cited Rodriguez’s pending lawsuit.