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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Detroit Home Foreclosure & Auction Leads to Murder

We have all heard the news streaming from Detroit over the past half-decade regarding the effects of the real estate collapse.  In order to generate some much-needed revenue, the Mayor's office has designed several programs to demolish the thousands of vacant condemned homes across Detroit, and auction salvageable properties that have been foreclosed for non-payment of taxes.

When property owners do not pay their property taxes, Michigan law provides a foreclosure process for the county treasurer to sell the property out from under the owner, similar to a mortgage foreclosure.  In Detroit, the tax foreclosure process has taken on a Kafkaesque dimension due to the sheer volume of distressed homes and the unusual tenacity of squatters.

Just as 75,000 properties in Wayne County are being prepared for tax foreclosures and sale by auction in 2015, a father and his adult daughter were gunned-down last week when entering their newly acquired home in the bucolic Rosedale Park section of Detroit.  They purchased the home at a tax foreclosure auction and were taking possession the day after Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately for the now-deceased new home owners, the former tax-delinquent owners were either unaware of the foreclosure sale, or did not care, leaving an uninformed family member to occupy the home over the holiday weekend; he was armed and probably thought he was protecting family property.

The most discouraging aspect of this story is where the murders took place.  Rosedale Park is the largest historic district in Michigan; it's homeowner's association is nearly a century old.  Among the residents of these historic and beautiful neighborhoods -Rosedale, North Rosedale and Grandmont- are some of Detroit's leading citizens.

The percentage of distressed homes in Wayne County, especially Detroit, that have delinquent tax issues, squatters, auction complications, or outright condemnation is critically high.  Getting law enforcement from Detroit and Wayne County to coordinate these property transfers with the County Treasurer will be a challenge.

This challenge must be met, however, or more blood will flow in the "D" as new property owners clash with former property owners, and as squatters are confronted with self-help eviction methods.

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