News from State Representative Howell – Bill to protect homeowners

Rep. Howell introduces bill to protect homeowners in tax foreclosure proceedings

LANSING, Mich. – State Rep. Gary Howell has introduced legislation that would allow Michigan homeowners involved in tax foreclosures to keep any excess sale proceeds which should be rightfully theirs.

“Currently, when a tax foreclosure sale takes place, the government keeps all of the money raised by the sale — rather than just being reimbursed for the taxes and fees owed to the county,” Howell, of North Branch, explained. “Not only does the county recover what it is owed, but it is also allowed to keep the equity in the home that should properly go to the individual who owned the home. I find it unfair that Michigan allows this practice – and the plan I have introduced in the Legislature will set things right.”

Rep. Howell credits Lapeer County attorney John Lengemann for bringing the matter to his attention.

“I applaud Rep. Howell for seeing the need for a change in tax foreclosure law and for addressing the matter,” Lengemann said. “I have worked in this area of the law for several years and have seen firsthand the unfortunate manner in which homeowners with tax problems have seen their hard-earned money go to the government rather than to themselves. It is long overdue that homeowners receive what is rightfully theirs. The government is entitled to the taxes and fees due, but nothing more.”

Howell was particularly pleased that it was a Lapeer County resident who brought the issue to him.

“I have had several occasions where Lapeer County residents have approached me with valid suggested changes in the law,” Howell said. “This is an example as to why I make it a point to stay in touch with my constituents.

“I appreciate John taking the time to point out this glaring injustice,” Howell said. “It is grossly unfair that after creating hard-earned equity in a home, the county would keep all of the money from a sale. The homeowner is left entirely out in the cold.”

House Bill 4219 has been referred to House Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance.