(KMOV) – A St. Louis man is claiming unfair treatment after his $200,000 home was sold at auction by the city of St. Louis for just $7,000 all in the name of recouping back taxes the man says he didn’t know he owed.
Mohammed Bhati says that the city did not do enough to try and reach him before selling his rehapped home. Now he’s out of $200,000, and the Missouri Supreme Court is siding with the city.
Bhati bought his Benton Park West house in 2005. He took out a second mortgage on his own home and borrowed thousands more to turn it into a showcase with hardwood floors and a new kitchen with granite countertops.
What he failed to pay was his taxes - $1,200 for three years. Bhati says someone told him there were no taxes for five years.
The city collector’s office sent delinquent notes by US mail, but the mail was returned since the home was vacant. So the city sold the house in 2009 for $7,000.
When asked how this could happen, the collector’s office said that it followed the law. “By law, we send out [notices by] first class mail. We publish it in the Post Dispatch and daily register two weeks before the sale,” says Tom Vollmer of the city’s collector’s office.
Vollmer says Mr. Bhatti should have known land taxes are never abated, and the city has to have some way to collect.
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled 4-3 in the city’s favor, saying Mr. Bhati’s rights to due process were not infringed.