NAR and The American Property Owners Alliance Oppose Home Equity Theft

Washington D.C.—On March 6, National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance), filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States opposing property tax foreclosure laws, which allow local governments to keep home equity beyond what may be owed in taxes, interest, and penalties. In Tyler v. Hennepin County, at issue is a Minnesota statute allowing the government to seize a homeowner’s property to satisfy a government debt and keep any surplus from the sale in excess of the debt owed as a windfall rather than rightfully returning it to the homeowner.

Stripping property owners’ equity interest is one of several troubling examples of government encroachment on private property rights that NAR and the Alliance defend against. Rent control measures, eviction moratoria, and tax-foreclosure laws, such as the one at issue in this case, illustrate the increase in government interventions depriving citizens of vested property interests without paying just compensation and why NAR and the Alliance are weighing in, in defense of property owners nationwide.

Property ownership remains one of the most significant ways to build financial security in America. When unexpected financial hardships occur, families and individuals should not lose the entirety of their home equity, no matter the size of the debt. In 14 states, including Minnesota, existing laws allow governments to take homes, land, and excess profits from foreclosures when property owners fall behind on their taxes, a practice known as home equity theft. This unjust, unconstitutional practice strips households of significant savings and wealth often built by individuals and families over a lifetime. In a brief to the Supreme Court, we request that the Court reverse the Eighth’s Circuit’s ruling and uphold constitutionally protected private property rights under the Fifth Amendment. The brief argues the Takings Clause does not permit the government to retain value in excess of an amount owed – taking away vested private property rights of individuals – without paying just compensation. We urge the Court to recognize this direct threat and the increase in government restrictions on private property nationwide by rejecting any attempts to divest property owners of longstanding property interests.

NAR and The Alliance support property owners on their path to building equity, and we continue to work to protect that equity after it is accrued. Abolishing home equity theft will protect the most vulnerable and improve property ownership for years to come.

Read the Amicus Brief.

Amber Hord




About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization created to protect and support property owners. The Alliance educates property owners on federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize when necessary to secure those rights and interests. The Alliance is primarily funded by NAR but operates independently from the association with its own board of directors and separate bylaws.
About the National Association of REALTORS 
The National Association of Realtors® is America's largest trade association, representing more than 1.5 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.