(WSVN) - An elderly couple wanted to sell their home and found a buyer. That’s when they discovered their property had been put in another name and they were about to be evicted. They didn’t know how to save their house and decided to make that call to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Rafael Egea had to quit school in the second grade, but it didn’t stop him from being successful.
Rafael Egea, losing property (through a translator): “I always had aspirations. I’ve had farms and trailers, business and bank accounts.”
Rafael is 85 years old now and one of his last purchases was a property that he paid cash for. He and his wife Otilia lived in the back and he had a tire shop in the front.
Rafael Egea: “It’s worth money.”
In 2015, a realtor named David Moliver offered to sell their property. He did not. Then a man offered Rafael $350,000 for the property. Rafael said OK, but…
Rafael Egea: “The man buying told me, ‘But this property is not under your name.’ What do you mean the property is not in my name?”
The paperwork showed Rafael and Otilia’s $350,000 property had been quit deeded for $10 over to company called Sunshine Marketing and Management. It’s a company owned by the family of the realtor who offered to sell Rafael’s house. Rafael was stunned.
Rafael Egea: “I felt pain and rage.”
Rafael says he would never give his property to someone. He called the police who told him it was a civil matter.
So our Help Me Howard producer Ambar Rodriguez tracked down the owners of Sunshine. Maribel Moliver and her husband David.
Ambar Rodriguez, producer: “I think that’s your signature?”
David Moliver, realtor: “Yeah.”
Ambar Rodriguez: “Do you recognize this piece of paper?”
David Moliver: “Yeah.”
Ambar Rodriguez: “OK, because they’re saying–”
David Moliver: “You mind turning that camera off?”
Moliver first told us he bought the property from Rafael…
David Moliver: “A ton of money.”
Ambar Rodriguez: “How much money did you give him?”
David Moliver: “Ahh, I don’t remember.”
Then Moliver said Rafael begged him to put the property in his name and he didn’t have to pay him anything.
David Moliver: “I didn’t buy this property from him.”
Ambar Rodriguez: “No?”
David Moliver: “No. Do you mind turning the camera off?”
Let’s bring in Howard. Is Rafael entitled to get his property back?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Absolutely. The law calls this void ab initio, which means it’s void from the beginning and the person who took the property never owned it and has to return it.”
Moliver and his wife then agreed sign this quit claim deed and return the property to Rafael and Otilia.
But there were enormous problems left behind…
According to the federal government, the Moliver’s company owed the IRS $345,000.
When they didn’t pay, the IRS slapped a lien on Rafael’s property, meaning they can force a sale to collect their money.
Jeremy C. Sahn, Becker Law Firm: “Here the evidence is pretty strong.”
That’s when we asked Jeremy Sahn of the Becker Law Firm to help Rafael…
Jeremy C. Sahn: “I see part of my obligation as an attorney is to give back to the community and I saw this as a perfect opportunity.”
Turns out the property taxes were also not paid by the company that had Rafael’s property either.
Jeremy has his work cut out for him beginning with the IRS.
Jeremy C. Sahn: “That IRS lien is going to have to be removed by either consent of the IRS or court procedures in the form of quiet title action.”
It won’t be easy to get all the liens against the property cleared, but Jeremy is determined to help Rafael and Otilia.
Jeremy C. Sahn: “This is a valuable property. Even though they don’t have money, this is all they have and it didn’t make sense, and it jumps right out.”
When we met Rafael and Otilia, they feared eviction. Now they face a brighter future.
Rafael Egea: “If it wasn’t for you guys, we would have lost everything.”
Rafael and Otilia are not alone. Unfortunately, things like this can often happen to older people. Luckily, we got the house back in their names and now Becker’s Jeremy Sahn is on the way to getting the liens wiped out. Very nice of him to do for them.
Got a problem you would love to evict from your life? Don’t let it tax you. Sign it over to us. And we will do a good deed for you.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org
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