OMG, this story makes me furious!!! A woman has actually lost her home because of a $6 bill. Yes, I'm not making this up!! The woman, Eileen Battisti, owned a $280,000 home in Pennsylvania. When her husband died, she was in the process of taking over all of the finances, which can be an arduous endeavor, let me assure you, and somehow $6.30 in interest on a property tax bill got overlooked. And apparently no one bothered to tell Battisti about it. Soon, interest and penalties accrued and the tax bill was up to $235. And then ... somehow ... horribly ... the house went to auction, with Battisti still living there. And was sold!
She appealed the sale, but the court actually ruled she had received all proper notices and the sale was final.
No one sits on a $6 bill when your house might be sold out from underneath you. This MUST have been a mistake.
Reportedly, Battisti was not only dealing with the death of her husband, but other personal issues as well. It's not stated what these issues were, but I can see a bill going unnoticed for months at a time if you're in the hospital or a family member is, or you're dealing with something else that's major.
Most of these bills come in plain white envelopes and you don't know what the hell they are anyway. And most of us get so much junk mail, you can't tell one thing from another. I've mistakenly let important notices go unopened for months because I thought it was junk mail -- which I admit I have a habit of letting pile up.
No one from the county could, say, give this woman a call?!!
But there is some hope. Another judge has ruled that Battisti -- who still hasn't moved out of her home -- deserves another hearing. Her lawyer insists that despite what the town says, there was NOT sufficient notice of what was happening and there were extenuating circumstances.
As someone who has had to step in suddenly and deal with three different estates and the bills of family members who suddenly died or got sick, let me tell you, it's a strenuous process, and no one helps you, least of all the people billing you. I remember I almost had a heart attack trying to pay off my relative's Internet bill -- since I didn't have her account number, no one would let me pay her bill.
The county tax collector's office should have picked up the damn phone and asked this woman why she hadn't paid a $6 bill before they put it into foreclosure. That's the human thing to do. Whatever happened to being human?
Give the woman her house back!
Have you ever been screwed over by the system for a tiny bill?
Image via Moyan_Brenn_BE_BACK_IN_SEPTEMBER/Flickr