Roz A. Quarto answers your questions about property taxes...
Answers to Your Real-life Legal Problems
My partner and I just received a notice from our bank that the interest rate on our mortgage is adjusting and our property taxes have increased, which will result in an extra $450 per month on top of our monthly mortgage payment. I don't think we can afford this and we are scared that we are going to lose our house. What are our options? Do we have any additional issues to deal with as a lesbian couple facing possible foreclosure?
You are not alone! Over the last few years many folks were convinced by mortgage brokers to borrow more money than they could afford by taking out interest-only loans or adjustable rate mortgages that would eventually become too expensive to afford once the interest rates increased. There is no reason to think that members of the LGBT community will be immune to this problem. And quite frankly, the financial implications and tax complications of losing one's home to foreclosure can become even more complex when part of a same sex couple.
My first and most important piece of advice is don't wait until you can no longer make your mortgage payments to seek help. First, call your lender and find out if they are willing to work out a solution with you before you start to miss payments. Foreclosing on a property is expensive for lenders and they are often willing to work with you if you are not already in default. If you feel uncomfortable contacting your lender yourself or if they are unwilling to negotiate a work-out plan with you, you can contact a HUD-approved housing counseling agency that can work with you and your lender to try and resolve the situation before it gets worse. (A helpful Web site is hud.gov/offices/hsg/-sfh/hcc/hcc_home.cfm).
If neither of these solutions works for you and if you still have equity in your home, another option might be to put your home on the market before the bank would begins a foreclosure proceeding. Whatever your thinking, a housing counselor should be able to explain all of your options. Again, the key here is not to wait. Procrastination does nothing but limit your choices. Good luck.
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*This column is not a consultation with an attorney and should in no way be construed as such or as a substitute for such consultation. Anyone with legal issues or concerns should seek the advice of her own attorney.