A blind man in Detroit purchased a home on the city’s west side. The man paid off the home in full, and was given the deed to the property last year. However, the blind man attempting to find some independence is now being put on the streets, after the home was sold on auction in October due unpaid property taxes.
According to WXYZ, Bruce Smith purchased a home in 2011 on a land contract. The home was small but sufficient for Bruce. Bruce lives alone with his seeing-eye dog, Marley. Though Bruce lived on a fixed income, he was able to pay the home off in full last year. Following the payoff, Smith received the deed for the home and thought everything was in the clear.
However, “a couple weeks ago,” Smith said two men arrived at his door with an eviction notice.
“A couple of weeks ago, two men came to my door and told me I don’t own it anymore.”
The home had been put up for auction back in October due to unpaid back property taxes. Upon further investigation, it appears that taxes on the home had not been paid for several years. Though Bruce had paid off the home, he had not paid taxes due.
Bruce notes that he never personally received a tax notice on the property. Bruce did acknowledge that some letters came to the home for the previous owner, but he did not open them as the letters were not addressed to him. Bruce did what he thought was right by marking the letters “return to sender,” as opening someone else’s mail is a federal offense. However, these returned letters would eventually land Bruce homeless.
When the taxes remained unpaid, the home was placed in foreclosure and put up for auction in October. The house sold to Eastwood Ventures. When Bruce contacted Eastwood Ventures about the misunderstanding, Bruce was told he could stay in the home, but only if he agreed to pay rent or buy the home back from the property moguls.
Unfortunately for Bruce, his fixed income will not allow him to purchase the home back. Therefore, Bruce acknowledges that he will most likely be homeless for a few days until he can find somewhere to stay. Bruce says he doesn’t want to blame his blindness or use it as an excuse, but he feels his lack of sight contributed to this misunderstanding.
“I don’t want to attribute it to me not being able to see the paperwork, that’s no excuse. I tried to be as independent as I can, maybe if I had someone looking closer to the paperwork, this wouldn’t have happened.”
What do you think? Should Eastwood Ventures allow Bruce to setup a payment plan to payback the back taxes, possibly with a little interest, instead of kicking the blind man to the streets? Should Bruce Smith be held liable for the taxes if the tax notices were sent to the wrong individual, even though Smith had legally changed the deed to his name?