News10NBC Investigates: Another property sold without notifying the person paying the taxes

WEBSTER, N.Y. – A viewer called News10NBC in a panic saying his family home was sold on Easter Sunday without any notice to him.

We’ve covered several instances of local governments taking action against a private property and not notifying people involved even if they’ve paid all the taxes.

The property we found on Klem Road in Webster is unlivable, dangerous and a problem for the neighborhood.

But we wondered how a town and the county’s public administrator can trigger the sale of a house and not tell the person who pays the taxes?

“Alright, we’ll get there somehow,” Terry Stephany said as he started walking to his family home.

In order to get to it, we had to carefully cut our way through a jungle of overgrown thorn bushes.

Its undeniable that the house is a mess.

Two years ago, Webster Town Supervisor Tom Flaherty says the town got complaints from neighbors. Last May, county social workers removed Stephany from the home because of the conditions. The Webster Fire Marshall recorded the near hoarding conditions inside with photos.

But this is the home Stephany grew up in and while his late parents are on the deed, he pays the taxes and utilities and it’s an emotional place to be.

“That’s where our first dog was buried, right there,” he said pointing the memorial in the backyard. 

“So lots of memories back here,” I said.
“My whole life,” he said as he started to cry. 

Court records show that at Thanksgiving, the Town of Webster asked the county’s public administrator to deal with the property.

In February, a court granted permission. The public administrator deals with estates where the people have died. On Easter Sunday, the home was put on the market. In a matter of hours, a private bid was accepted for $39,900.

Brean: “Were you notified at all that it was being sold?”
Stephany: “No!”
Brean: “So you never got a phone call?”
Stephany: “No.”
Brean: “Never got a letter?”
Stephany: “Nothing.”

I’ve done several stories like this.

In January, Karen Lessard’s home in Greece was sold at a Monroe County tax lien auction because she owed $67 in property tax from five years ago. No one told her her house was on the auction list, but our story canceled the sale.

Last month, the city put a rundown house on Jay Street on the demolition list even though all the taxes are paid up. The property manager said he had no idea.

In an email, Supervisor Flaherty told me it’s been difficult to deal with the Stephany property on Klem Road because it’s still in the name of Stephany’s parents who died more than 25 years ago.

Brean: “Terry, I got to be honest with you. This is uninhabitable. It’s not in good shape. Why are you so upset that it was sold?”
Stephany: “All my possessions are here! We were going to rebuild this. I want my house back. Then I will have it put totally in my name. I want my house back.”

I started calling about this Monday morning. Monday a lawyer for the Town of Webster put a pause on the sale because Stephany was “not provided notice.”       

The court also named a guardian for Stephany and there is a hearing in two weeks concerning the sale of the home and whether Stephany is competent to handle his parent’s estate.