Property Taxes

I have posted before about a piece of property my late father-in-law left to my husband and my FIL’s girlfriend.

We have sent certified letter upon letter requesting to buy her out or the other way around. Some are returned as “refused” others we never hear a thing about. This has been going on for two years now.

She was living in the house last year and she paid the property taxes which were next to nothing since it has little value and had a homestead exemption. (Less than 100 dollars). Now that the probate is over, the taxes have increased to $800 which isn’t bad but my husband certainly doesn’t have that money. I sent her the tax bill and asked if she planned to pay half and got no response. The last day to pay these taxes are March 31. I have no idea if she still resides in the house or not.

I realize I can’t get legal advice here but any opinions or experiences would be useful. What happens if no one pays the taxes by March 31. I think I have heard that someone can put a lien on the property for unpaid taxes. Could I go personally go down to the courthouse April 1 and put a lien on the property? Could I use that lien to force her hand in some way?

In addition, my husband said if I pay the $800 he would quit claim the house over to me but can he do that with his “half”?

How do I find out if there is even home owners insurance on this house?

The house is in Florida.

Anyone have thoughts on this mess?

I will add that I realize my marriage finances may seem odd but we do not share money and have a prenuptial agreement that is very specific about that. What I earn is mine and what he earns is his. So I would be spending my money to pay the taxes.

I’m a tax collector for property taxes (town, county, school district.) I’m in PA but, I’ll tell you how things go here and maybe it will give you somewhere to start.

Is the March 31 date the absolute last day to pay the taxes or is it the end of a discount or face value period? Here you have 60 days from date of issue to pay at a discount, 60 more days to pay at face value, and after that it’s due at a 10% penalty through Dec. 31. Is it the only property tax bill or is there another one that comes out later in the year? (around here town/ county come out usually February, school district end of July).

If someone doesn’t pay by the end of the year I send the bill over to county tax claim, where more penalties get tacked on, and if the owner doesn’t pay for 3 years it is seized by the county sherriff’s dept. and sold at auction. They get pretty aggressive about trying to collect the money before the 3 years are up both to give th owner a chance to make good and because they want their money, dammit :wink:

The unpaid taxes are considered a lien against the property and the house can’t be sold or transferred until the taxes are paid up to date so your husband can’t deed the house over to you until the tax mess is straightened out, and I’m pretty sure both of them would have to agree to that anyway.

It sounds to me like she might still be living there, someone has to be refusing the certified letters (as opposed to them being returned as undeliverable or property vacant).

Don’t wait until April 1st to start doing something, since that might put the taxes into either the penalty or delinquent catagory and most likely this all will happen at the speed of government (ie blackstrap molasses, in January, at the North Pole).

I’d start by calling the tax collector for your town/city or the tax dept. at the courthouse if the bills are collected there. Have them send you a copy of the bill for yourself if you don’t already have one, depending on their policy you might have to pay a small fee for that. Ask them if there’s any advice they can give you about your options for getting her to pay up and how long you have before the property might be seized, if you don’t want to pay before getting in contact with her.

I’d advise you to pay the taxes to avoid the penalties but that’s your call, since she might still be unwilling to sell out and you’d probably never get her half of the tax money.

You will probably end up needing a lawyer who specializes in real estate if you want to force the issue of buying her out/ making her buy you out.

Hope I was sort of helpful. Good luck

You should read up on partition lawsuits. They came up often in real estate columns in the paper.

Thanks Zen. I guess I need to see if a partition lawsuit can be filed without the expense of an attorney. At this point we just don’t want to have any connection at all with this person. She just seems content to let it just ride for as long as we do nothing. And yes, I agree, she IS probably still living there. I can certainly see her having my husband pay the insurance and property taxes while she lives in the house until she dies.

It was very helpful. Thank you. I do have a copy of the tax bill that I was able to download on line. I keep checking hoping it would show paid but no such luck. If paid by March 31 there is no discount so that is why I assumed that would be the final date it was due. I will call the county where the house is located and ask.

I guess I should insure the property too since I have no way of knowing if there is insurance on it either.