Tax firm sells Houston man's home for $50,000 in auction over unpaid $1,500 bill

April 11, 2013 8:25:51 PM PDT
One local homeowner is saying a property tax consulting firm sold his home at auction, and now he's fighting to get it back.

He hired O'Connor and Associates to help him with a property tax issue. But after a billing dispute, O'Connor put a lien on his home and sold it for a fraction of its value.

"Paid cash for this house and there was no mortgage onto it," homeowner Ricky Hall said.

Hall purchased a house across the street from his son so he'd be able to watch his grandchild grow up. Before moving in, Hall wanted to renovate the home.

During that time, he received a flyer from O'Connor and Associates, a company that protests home values and helps lower property taxes.

"So I gave them a call said, 'Look, if you guys can get my house taken off the tax roll, being that it's not livable.' And they said, 'Yes we can do that,'" he said.

Hall says they did not take his home off the tax rolls as requested, and only got his tax bill lowered by a few hundred dollars.

"I called them and said, 'Listen that's not our agreement, and so I don't want you doing anything else for me,'" Hall said.

Hall says even though he requested them to stop protesting his property taxes, O'Connor continued to do so until 2011 -- and billed him for their services. When Hall refused to pay, O'Connor and Associates put a lien on his home.

"We do send out past due invoices on a consistent basis. We also had several phone attempts to try and reach Mr. Hall to work out a payment, but none of those were successful," Janice Phillips with O'Connor and Associates said.

Phillips tells us Hall did hire them and received the tax break benefits for a number of years. She says they were well with in their legal rights to place the lien on Hall's home, after being awarded a judgment in small claims court earlier last year.

"They were saying I owed them $1,500 for attorney fees and the $549 dollar balance. And I said well you guys never provided the work," Hall said.

Then, he received a letter from the constables office notifying him O'Connor was going to sell his home at auction. Hall says he called O'Connor's office to get this rectified and was under the impression they were working with him.

"I had to leave and go out of state, to Colorado. When I came back in, I had found out they had sold the house," Hall said.

"Fifteen-hundred dollars seems like a small amount to initiate a sale of a house this guy owned outright," we began telling Phillips.

"I understand how it looks, but we're also in business. We're not a public service company," Phillips said.

Hall has since hired an attorney and is suing O'Connor and Associates, and GAI to get his home back. Hall's main claim in the case is that O'Connor sold his homestead, which is against the law here in Texas.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13