An elderly Texas woman, Aron Ezilla Ridge, 75, is being thrown out the home she's lived in for 47 years--the home that she raised six children--over $49 in property taxes, taxes that she paid early. Ms. Ridge is confined to a wheelchair, and is for the most part, housebound as she is partly blind, has diabetes, congestive heart failure and had surgery for colon cancer several years ago.
Ridge paid off the mortgage for her 900-square-foot home about 20 years ago. In 2007, her home needed major roof, kitchen and bathroom repairs, so she signed a reverse mortgage with James B. Nutter & Co. which provided her with $39,000 for the repairs. In 2011, she received a property tax bill for $20.31, which she said she paid in full and on time. In April 2012, the assessor's office informed her that her home was valued at $60,743 and that her taxes were estimated at $46.87. Ridge says she did not receive a tax bill, but later received a receipt stating that $49 in taxes were paid in late 2012.
Here's the thing. Ridge says she was told by the Travis County Tax Assessor's office in 2000 that she did not need to pay property taxes because the value of her home was below homestead and senior exemption caps, so she assumed that the receipt meant she was exempt from property taxes.
Fast forward to January 2013, and Nutter's attorneys told Ridge her reverse mortgage had been accelerated (see acceleration clause), and that she had to pay off the entire loan "or the lender would exercise its right to enforce the lien on her home. Ms. Ridge does not remember receiving this letter," the complaint states.
Her home was foreclosed on on Jan. 30, and she received notice on Feb. 6.
According to the complaint:
"The application [for foreclosure] stated that Ms. Ridge was in default 'for failure to pay property taxes.' The only property to which the application could possibly refer were the taxes for 2012 - which were not due until January 31, 2013. Yet defendant intended to enforce its right to foreclose on Ms. Ridge's home because she had not paid $49.00, which at the time the application was filed, was not due yet."After Ridge was served, she tried to pay the taxes again at the assessor's office. They told her they could not accept payment because the taxes had been paid by the defendant before they were due. In other words, the taxes were already paid!
Ridge lives on $641 in monthly disability payments, therefore, is unable to pay the accelerated reverse mortgage. She has no other source of income. Meanwhile, Nutter is demanding more than $66,700, plus attorneys' fees - double the amount she was paid in 2007 and more than the appraised value of her home in 2012.
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