QUEENS (WABC) – A pair of homeowners in Queens were told they hadn’t ever paid their property taxes, but they say they had paid, on time, every month since they moved in.
And it was up to 7 On Your Side to save their home and teach them a lesson that could help everyone.
“I was shocked,” Bebi Harun said. “I was like, what’s going on? This is not true.”
But it was, and Harun was $20,000 in the hole for property taxes she already paid.
“Three years, no taxes paid,” she said. “It says here, zero, zero, zero.”
Back in 2011, Bebi and her brother Yusuf worked extra jobs, scrimping and saving to buy the duplex. The plan was to rent out the top floor to help pay the monthly bills, and like many homeowners, they paid their property taxes through their mortgage company.
“(It was to) have everything in one, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the Department of Finance,” Bebi said.
Years ago, the New York City Department of Finance dealt with them, sending notice after notice warning their property taxes weren’t paid. But Yusuf made a costly mistake, ignoring the notices because they had stacks of mortgage statements, all saying their property taxes were being paid.
“It was like stupidity on our part,” Bebi said. “Because we ignored the notices.”
But a notice that said their property tax debt would be auctioned off caught their attention. It said that if $20,000 wasn’t paid, they could lose the house.
So Bebi tried contacting her mortgage company.
“They didn’t have an answer for me,” she said. “(It went on for) almost a month.”
That was too long a wait, under the circumstances. So Eyewitness News got involved and called them. The lender located a big mix up, as the company had been paying Bebi’s taxes to someone else.
And just 24 hours after our calls, the mortgage company sent all the back taxes to the city’s finance department, paid in full.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Bebi said.
Bebi says her mortgage company told her they paid her taxes to her neighbor’s account, but the city’s finance department isn’t so forgiving. A representative said the city is independently investigating the incident on their end. The big takeaway is to never ignore notices saying you owe money, especially when it comes to your mortgage or property taxes.