MILLINGTON, Tenn. — Shelby County officials waited weeks to file a lien against a home, leaving the new homeowner vulnerable to a hefty charge, documents showed.
The Problem Solvers started investigating Sean Boyette’s case when he reached out with the peculiar circumstances.
Boyette lives on a three-acre lot outside Millington. He bought the property out of foreclosure in 2016.
The sale went smoothly, he said.
“They did a title search. Everything was clear. So we signed. Got the property,” he said.
Documents provided by his agent showed nothing owed on the property when he bought it in January of 2016. But about a month later, Shelby County put a $2,850 lien on his property for grass they cut the year before.
Without checking, his mortgage company paid the county and in turn, charged him. For months, Boyette tried to solve the issue on his own.
He tried to get answers.
“I’ve contacted the Shelby County mayors office, sent them an email, called, so obviously the right people aren’t hearing this issue,” he said.
That’s when he called the WREG Problem Solvers.
Shelby County officials declined our request for an interview. In an email, the trustee’s office provided a timeline, admitting the fees were incurred in 2015 but didn’t get recorded as liens until 2016.
Mike Christoff is a title attorney who did not work on this case. He did review the documents involved and said the problem came down to the county’s delayed timing in registering the lien.
“It’s really hard to know if you can give clear title to someone if the county is not going to file a lien until six months after they cut the grass on the property. It makes it impossible to know,” He said. “You’d expect them to file it more quickly so you can have some certainty when transferring properties.”
That explained why Boyette’s title guarantee is useless, he said.
“This is an instance where there is an exception to title insurance policy where a tax lien wasn’t public record at the time when you bought the house,” Christoff said.
Despite years of frustration, our efforts finally paid off for Boyette. He said he still never heard back from Shelby County officials, but his title agent is now taking up the fight and agreed to reimburse him the $2,850.
“Because of your investigation, you were making phone calls and getting responses where I was running into dead ends,” Boyette said.
But even more than the money, he’s frustrated he had to turn to the Problem Solvers in the first place.
“I just wish Shelby County would’ve been more receptive to me as a tax-paying citizen of Shelby County. ‘Hey, I’ve got a problem. I need somebody to help me.’ I just got the runaround until you got involved and I appreciate that” he said.
Neither Shelby County public works nor officials with the mayors office responded to the Problem Solvers’ requests for comments on the delayed lien.