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Michigan residents who experienced foreclosure may be eligible for a settlement payment

a house with a foreclosure sign in front of it
(Photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)
Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK
A foreclosure sign sits in front of a home in Lansing, Michigan.

Forty-three Michigan counties agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit. It involved foreclosed properties that were sold at auction from 2013-2020 for more than what was owed in outstanding taxes and fees. Counties have often kept the surplus.

Counties will pay back money to all those who are eligible and file a claim with the class action settlement.

Both state and federal courts have found that the practice violates the “taking clause” of the Fifth Amendment, which forbids private property from being taken for public use, without just compensation.

Owen Ramey is an attorney with Lewis, Reed and Allen, a law firm that represented the plaintiffs.

Ramey encourages those who experienced foreclosure in the affected counties to file a claim.

“People from 2013 to 2020 are going to get a very significant amount of that money. They deserve it, and from all the people I talked to they need it,” Ramey explained.

However, there are difficulties finding those who qualify for the settlement payment, because some residents who experienced foreclosure may have moved or passed away. Those who have a legal tie to a foreclosed property are encouraged to file a claim.

Alan Fox is the Ingham County Treasurer.

Fox said determining who is eligible for the settlement money may be a challenge.

“There are a lot of cases where it's not clear who the owner of the property was at the time it foreclosed, because the name on the deed is the name of someone who died years before the foreclosure,” Fox said.

Fox also said the counties did not make a profit from the money procured at auction, even if it did exceed the owed taxes and fees.

“All counties, including Ingham have, as a total, lost more money due to tax auction proceeds than they ever gained from the individual parcels that did sell for more than the taxes due,” Fox said.

The law firms representing the plaintiffs are working to contact those they believe are eligible, and assist them in the claims process.

The deadline to submit a claim is August 7.

Those interested in submitting a claim can find out more information here.

Taylor Bowie is a senior studying English Literature at the University of Michigan and an intern in the Michigan Radio newsroom. She is originally from Owosso, Michigan.
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