For my latest Real Estate Law Update I came back to one of my recurring topics, real property taxes. As in, what happens when property taxes are not paid on time, in full. I often tell people that there’s rarely a need to panic over unpaid property taxes, because in Arizona, the taxes have to be unpaid for a long time before anything bad will happen.
I should hasten to add, however, that bad things can and will happen if you let property taxes go unpaid long enough, so don’t neglect them.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that you pay the correct amount, or if you’re going to err, err on the side of paying too much rather than too little. If you pay too much, the county treasurer (in Arizona, that’s the government official who collect property taxes) will usually either refund the overpayment to you, or apply the overpayment to the next year’s taxes.
Which leads me to the subject of the Update, which is, does the government seize your property if you underpay your property taxes? The answer is, you will lose your property, but it probably won’t be the government that ends up with it. In most cases, a private tax lien investor is the one who will end up with your property.
Want the details? Read the Update, now available for your reading pleasure in the news and events section of deconcinimcdonald.com.
The question is, what happens to a one-foot wide strip of property that remained in the ownership of the builder after construction of two attached houses on two lots on either side of the one-foot wide strip?
Pro tip: don’t buy the one-foot wide strip at the tax lien sale. Buyer beware.
My Real Estate Law Update for December discussed Home Title Lock, and whether it really provides a needed service. You’ll find that Update in the news and events section of deconcinimcdonald.com.
Clark Howard makes the point that Home Title Lock doesn’t really sound like insurance. They say they will monitor your home title, alert you if anything happens, and assist you with documents if something does happen, but they don’t say that they will pay any money to cover any losses you might incur.
I saw a news item from KOLD-TV about the Tucson City Council being urged to modify its development code to prohibit front-yard swimming pools. Why? Because construction of the required safety wall around a front-yard pool would allegedly cause the property to no longer qualify for the historic property tax break.
Why should anyone but the owner of the subject property care about that? Well apparently, if a large enough number of properties in a historically designated district no longer qualify, the district could lose the historic designation, which would mean that none of the properties in the district would qualify for the tax break.
I have not done the research to see if any of the above is true. But even assuming that it is true, I find these comments by a city council member, as quoted in the new item, to be illuminating, and not in a good way:
“We can’t allow something in the front yard that’s going to delist the property,” said Steve Kozachik, the city council member for Ward 6.
In other words, what you get to do on your property is subject to the better judgment of the city. Those comments are on a par with the comment I recently posted from the mayor of New York, who thinks that the government knows better than you do how your money should be spent.
Have you heard the advertising for Home Title Lock? If you listen to news radio, you will hear it. The advertising says that real estate title fraud is a significant risk for homeowners, and that you need their product to protect you from that type of fraud. Of course that’s what they say.
I think it is unlikely that Home Title Lock is something you really need. That’s my opinion because I think you probably have insurance already in place that protects you against the type of fraud that Home Title Lock says it will detect.
To find out why that’s my opinion, I encourage you to read my Real Estate Law Update for December. It was posted yesterday in the News & Events section of my law firm’s web site, deconcinimcdonald.com.
I am interested to hear if any of my readers have encountered real estate title fraud, and if you have any opinion on the subject.
JUST HOW FAR SHOULD GOVERNMENT BE ABLE TO GO IN TELLING ME WHAT I CAN, CANNOT, OR MUST DO ON MY PROPERTY?
I have seen this news item linked in at least two different places, so I don’t want to give it more attention than it deserves, but I think it’s worthy of notice and comment because it’s an apt illustration of a subject that I have repeatedly discussed in this space. The subject is the extent to which the concerns of other should control my use of my private property. This example goes much further than the land use planning issues that I have discussed here in the past, however, because the suggestion in this case would, if implemented, dictate that private property owners dedicate part of their property to residential use by others without compensation.
The example is just a suggestion by a narrow majority of a subcommittee in one city, so it’s far from a trend, but it does illustrate, to me anyway, that there is no reach too far for some people who believe that government should be able to dictate how private property owners can use their property.
I don’t recall ever seeing anyone riding one of the e-scooters in Tucson, although I have seen them parked here and there. I suppose they really could be a menace, but except possibly on 4th Avenue, I don’t see how they could be prevalent enough to be as much of a problem as this news item suggests. Thank goodness our protectors on the city council have seen fit to allow the scooters to remain, at least for now.
To reach the status of one of the dumber tax ideas I have heard recently, the idea must be pretty dumb, but I think this one qualifies: take a sales tax that was enacted to protect an urban area’s water supply and divert it to pay for public transit instead. Huh?
If the tax is needed to protect the water supply, how could it possibly make any sense to divert it to pay for public transit?
On the other hand, if the objective for which the tax was levied has been accomplished, then how about repealing it? Why don’t politicians ever think of that?
A court said that in denying a homeowner’s request to seal the records of the homeowner’s lawsuit against his insurance company. The homeowner sued the insurance company to force them to pay for water damage to his home. The homeowner claimed that despite the fact that he had completely fixed the water damage, no one would buy his house, nor would any broker even list it for sale.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.