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Scranton Properties Sold Without Notifying Owners?

SCRANTON — Some homeowners in Lackawanna County are being told that they no longer own their homes. Their properties were sold at a Scranton City Treasure...

SCRANTON -- Some homeowners in Lackawanna County are being told that they no longer own their homes.

Their properties were sold at a Scranton City Treasurer's Sale without the owners even knowing about it.

Since Newswatch 16 started looking into these sales, the city of Scranton has started looking into how or if some homeowners were properly notified that their homes were up for sale back in 2013.

Two men who have lived in Scranton for many years both found out last Thursday that their houses no longer belong to them. They both say they had no idea they were sold.

Since last Thursday, Bill McAndrew has spent a lot of time at his dining room table looking over 20 years of tax bills and documents. He's trying to figure out how a piece of paper wound up on the door of his rental property next door.

The paper says McAndrew's tenants no longer owe rent to him but to Savana Realty of Peckville, the new owner of the house. Problem is, McAndrew never knew his property went up for sale a year and a half ago.

According to county records, the house in Green Ridge sold for only $450. A collections agency hired by Scranton told McAndrew he owed that amount in city taxes on his property eight years ago.

But, McAndrew said he has the receipt proving he paid back then. And he's continued to.

"After the home was sold for $450 in 2013, they whacked me for taxes in 2013 and again in 2014. I was still paying taxes on it! It's incredible that this could happen to somebody," McAndrew told Newswatch 16.

Officials with Scranton's City Treasurer's Office said they just found out about the mishap. They told Newswatch 16 that tax delinquent properties should receive certified mail and a note on the door before being sold.

Ron Burkland, who lives in north Scranton, said he never got that notification either.  Last Thursday, he too found out his home is not his.

Burkland admits that he fell behind on his taxes after his wife died in 2012. But, he did not know his home was for sale.

Burkland said he spotted a man on his porch with the same letter Bill McAndrew received. It told Burkland he now owes rent to Savana Realty for a house he thought he owned. A house he paid for in cash in 1989.

"What do you do? Right now, there are a lot of lawyers looking into it, the representative is looking into it. I don't know what's going on," Burkland said.

Bill McAndrew has taken the only recourse he feels he has at this point. He's filed a lawsuit against Scranton and the new owner of his house.

"They're stealing people's homes, and it's terrible! Terrible what they're doing to people who have no resources to fight back," McAndrew said.

Officials with the Scranton City Treasurer's Office and the Solicitor's Office said both of those properties were sold at the June 2013 treasurer's tax sale.

They are now looking into whether those two homeowners were notified about the sale and if their properties were supposed to be on the list in the first place.

Newswatch 16 reached out to Savana Realty for comment. We have not yet heard back.