A recent YouTube video discussing auctioning a house without the homeowner’s knowledge has shocked the internet.

The video, titled: “Sheriff Auctioned Off Houses Without Notifying Owners” discusses a legal issue involving property auctions in Nova Scotia, Canada. But terrifyingly, the video also notes that similar situations could potentially happen elsewhere …

In the video, property lawyer Steve Lehto of Lehto’s Law discussed a historical case of a property in Nova Scotia. Ian and Lorna Tenniswood bought a historic four-bedroom home in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley at a sheriff’s auction in 2021 for $50,000. They invested over half a million dollars in renovations.

But soon after, legal complications arose. A legal hold was placed on the house after listing the renovated property on the market. The Attorney General of Nova Scotia initiated a lawsuit claiming that the house did not belong to the Tenniswoods and should be returned to its previous owner.

In Nova Scotia, property auctions are conducted by the sheriff’s department. In this case, the sheriff made errors during the auction process, which led to the nullification of the transaction. 

The one key mistake that ended up costing the Tenniswoods big was failing to inform the previous owner of the auction.

The previous owner of the Tenniswoods’ home, Medhi Matin, resides in New York and was unaware of the auction. The house was unoccupied at the time of the auction, but the previous owner was still listed as the owner and, of course, should have been notified.

Legally, specific procedures and notifications are required before auctioning off property, especially residences. These include multiple notifications to the owner, potentially including certified mail and notices posted on the property. This mess could have been avoided if the sheriff’s department had followed these procedures and ensured the owner was properly notified.

The lack of proper notification to the previous owner resulted in the legal challenge and the potential for the Tenniswoods to lose their investment in the renovated property.

Lorna has told CTV News that the ordeal has ruined her love of her home. “I hate it. It’s a great house. It’s just so tainted. It’s a prison of our own making.”

She continued: “We didn’t feel it was a risk that wasn’t going to pay us back. We felt very safe knowing we could turn this into a gem. And it is. And we knew that money would come back to us.”

And, despite the fact Matin stands to reclaim a home that has been renovated on someone else’s dime, he also feels angry with the authorities. “The shock of it,” he explained. “The shock of having your house taken from you without even being told. Well, that’s the worst. That’s the worst. This is wrong.” 

Lehto’s YouTube video mentions other cases in Nova Scotia where errors were made during auctions. These include a family cottage and a piece of waterfront property auctioned in 2023 – both of which no longer existed at the time of the auction.

The multitude of different errors has led to speculation that the sheriff’s department may not have been as diligent in conducting these property auctions as required.

It remains possible that the Tenniswoods could seek compensation for their losses due to the sheriff’s mistakes.

People have been going wild in the YouTube comments, offering their views on this controversial issue. 

One wrote: “When a criminal steals someone’s property, there’s usually some sort of recourse for the victim.  But when government steals property, they almost always block justice and operate under the Finders Keepers rule.”

Another simply said: “Leave it to government/cops to screw things up.”

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