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The house I lived in burned. I did not own it, and I don't live there any more. I haven't for 4 years. Am I responsible for it?

Youngstown, OH |

My mother in law bought a house in 1996. My husband and I lived there. She died in December 2004. My husband didn't tell mortgage company that she died. The house was foreclosed on in 2006. In 2007 my husband entered into Loss and Mitigation. He died in February 2009. The house was in HIS name only. In December 2009 I moved my family to an apartment. I couldn't afford to move all our property at once. The neighbors called the mortgage company and said I abandoned the house. The house was locked up. The Mortgage company refused to let me back in since my late mother in law was still listed on the mortgage. I haven't been in the house since June 2010. The house burned two weeks ago and the city sent me a letter saying since I owned it they wanted to know about escrow. Am I responsible?

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Attorney answers 3


Under the facts presented, you do NOT own the property and you would not have any responsibility. It sounds like the bank may have taken possession of the property prematurely.

James Frederick

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The escrow that the city is talking about is an Ohio requirement that in the case of fire damage to a building, the owner's insurance company must place enough of the insurance money in escrow with the city to pay any taxes due and also enough to demolish the house if it's not repaired. You can see this section of the law here: As far as you being responsible for it, from what you're saying it sounds like you were never an owner and as such can't be liable for anything. Talk to an attorney, just to be sure, but it sounds like you're in good shape.

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I agree with the other attorneys. You will likely not be liable for the damage to the home

Matthew Johnson phone# 206.747.0313 is licensed in the State of Washington and performs bankruptcy, short sale negotiations, and estate planning in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. The response does not constitute specific legal advice, which would require a full inquiry by the attorney into the complete background of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter; rather, it is intended to be general legal information based on the limited information provided by the inquirer; it This response also does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established after a conflict of interest evaluation is completed, your case is accepted, and a fee agreement is signed. Johnson Legal Group, PLLC