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City puts brakes on $80,000 home sale

Home assessed at $779,300 was on the block to cover unpaid property taxes

Every year, the City of Burnaby releases a list of properties whose owners haven't paid taxes in three years, putting the homes up for sale. And, usually, by the date of the tax sale, the property taxes are paid off.

Things went differently last September when the property at 7151 Maureen Cres. - listed in its most recent assessment as being worth $779,300 - was sold by the city for $80,000.

The sale was slated to be cancelled, however, when the city realized it had not properly notified the owner, as it was difficult to determine who the owner actually was.

"This is very unusual," Denise Jorgenson, director of the city's finance department, said in an email regarding the situation.

The owner of the property was listed as Pauline Yanchuk as of May 1978, according to the B.C. Land Title and Survey Authority's records.

But there was also a duplicate indefeasible - meaning it cannot be overturned - title on the land issued to Leslie Parsons in August 1978.

The current resident, Faith Yanchuk, told the city that her mother Pauline had passed away, but she was seeking legal title of the land, according to the Burnaby city manager's report.

When the NOW called the Maureen Crescent residence last Friday, a woman answered the phone but would not confirm whether or not she was the current owner.

"It's a very upsetting issue, and the owner doesn't want to talk about it," the woman said, adding that the issue had been resolved. The tax sale correction was removed from Monday's council agenda as the property taxes were paid off, according to Jorgenson.

"Since the report was prepared last week the outstanding taxes have been paid," she said.

The city is required by the Local Government Act to sell properties whose taxes have not been paid in three years at a tax sale, according to the city's website.

The public auction is held at 10 a.m. on the last Monday in September in council chambers each year. The city is required to advertise the property sales list in a local paper less than 10, and more than three, days before the sale.

Taxes have to be paid off three weeks' prior to the sale to avoid the homes being listed.

The upset price is the minimum bidding price for a property.

The upset price formula is the cost of the unpaid taxes, any penalties, interest on the taxes, five per cent of the amount of the taxes to cover the tax sale costs, plus any Land Title Office fees.

The original owner has a year after the sale to pay the taxes and buy back the property, a process called redemption. If the property is redeemed, the purchaser has the purchase price returned to them, plus interest to the date of the redemption.

The sale of the property at 7151 Maureen Cres. was made on Sept. 27, 2010. The upset price was $13,581.56, with the bidding going to $80,000 for the sale. The purchaser was not identified.

The redemption price, paid by the owner, was $18,205.40.