What do I need to do to keep my house out of foreclosure?

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What do I need to do to keep my house out of foreclosure?

About 10 years ago, my family and I moved into a residential property that appeared to have been abandoned. I did some research and according to HCAD the owner of title is deceased. The probate court has her listed as the owner of title with no next of kin which I was told is impossible. We have not heard from anybody trying to lay claim to the property and over the years we have made many improvements to the property including a complete renovation after Hurricane Harvey and a new roof. I have receipts totaling over $60,000 of our own money spent on this property. I have paid the property taxes and up until the Homestead and Over 65 exemptions were removed we owed 0. We have lived here openly and without the owner’s permission, since she is deceased. However, with the exemptions being removed, we now owe almost $6000 in back property taxesand will owe roughly $2000 every year after that. Since we are not the homeowners we cannot file a Homestead

exemption nor can we get homeowners insurance. I have done a lot of research into what our options are and I came to the conclusion that we should try to start the process of adverse possession. This is where it gets really tricky and I would not even bother if it weren’t for the fact that we run the risk of the county foreclosing on the property because we cannot afford the back property taxes. I can’t let my family lose this house. I have been trying to do this alone and there are so many obstacles in my way it’s overwhelming and the clock is ticking.

Asked on September 11, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Based on what you write (10 years of open and adverse possession), you would qualify for adverse possession in your state, but would have to file a court case in Chancery court (a part of district court) to have a court order issued granting you the property.
But adverse possession will not get rid of the back taxes: whomever owns property or acquires it must clean up (pay off) any back taxes or potentially lose it to the government to a tax sale. If you can't come up with the money for the back taxes, it would not be worth pursuing adverse possession, since you can be held liable for those taxes and lose the property.


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