Monday, May 27, 2013

State Lawmakers Consider Change In Law To Ban Maine Municipalities From Snatching Surplus Proceeds From Homeowners Who Lost Their Homes In Tax Foreclosure Sales

In Augusta, Maine, Sanford News reports:

  • A measure that would prohibit municipalities from keeping excess funds after sale of foreclosed properties recently received a public hearing before the Legislature’s committee on Judiciary.

    “Towns should certainly be able to recover the taxes and expenses they are entitled to, but they shouldn’t be able to keep any more than that,” said Rep. Anne-Marie Mastraccio, D- Sanford, a sponsor of the bill. “It is only right that surplus funds be returned to the former owner.”

    Under current law, a municipality is not obligated to give the former property owner funds gained from the sale that are in excess the amount owed.
  • During last week’s hearing, Chet Randall, an attorney at Pine Tree Legal Assistance,(1) voiced strong support for the bill.

    “While the municipality may be entitled to be paid the real estate taxes owed, there should not be a windfall to the municipality,” testified Randall. “This bill protects the equity a homeowner has in the property and returns that equity to the homeowner after payment of the taxes owed.”

    The Legislature’s Committee on Judiciary will schedule a work session for the bill in the coming weeks and will make a recommendation on the bill to the full Legislature later this session.

    For more information about the bill, go online to:
For the story, see Bill aims to return surpluses to former property owners.

(1) Pine Tree Legal Assistance is a statewide, non-profit organization that provides free, civil legal assistance to low-income people in Maine, whose mission is to ensure that state and federal laws affecting poor people are enforced while also addressing the systemic barriers to justice that low-income Mainers face.

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