Sunday, September 08, 2013

Left with nothing | The Washington Post

Left with nothing | The Washington Post
The retired Marine sergeant lost his house on that summer day two years ago through a tax lien sale — an obscure program run by D.C. government that enlists private investors to help the city recover unpaid taxes. For decades, the District placed liens on properties when homeowners failed to pay their bills, then sold those liens at public auctions to mom-and-pop investors who drew a profit by charging owners interest on top of the tax debt until the money was repaid. But under the watch of local leaders, the program has morphed into a predatory system of debt collection for well-financed, out-of-town companies that turned $500 delinquencies into $5,000 debts — then foreclosed on homes when families couldn’t pay, a Washington Post investigation found.
Thanks to Mystery Reader for the link to this infuriating story. These "tax farmers" are all over the country, but it appears that at least in DC it has "morphed" into something much more dangerous. To own a home today is to be exposed to a terrifying range of predatory business practices.  And look at what's coming up in parts 2 and 3 of this story:

"Part 2 — As federal agents investigated a sweeping bid-rigging scheme at Maryland’s tax auctions, some of those same suspects were in the District, engaging in dozens of rounds of unusual bidding. Coming Monday.  Part 3 — District tax officials have made hundreds of mistakes in recent years by declaring property owners delinquent even after they paid their taxes, forcing them to fight for their homes. Coming Tuesday."

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