I just got off the phone with the Mobile County Revenue Commission Redemptions Department. I asked them about their requirement for a signed indemnification agreement when someone turns in their tax certificate and requests a tax deed. After pressing the woman on this issue, she said, "It's voluntary. You can decline or refuse to sign. We'll still give you the tax deed." INCREDIBLE!!!! These are my observations:
- ALWAYS refuse to sign the agreement, and tell all your friends this, also. Apparently the clerks do not volunteer the information that the agreement is voluntary. Frankly, I'm astounded.
- If you've already signed such a form because they refused to give you a tax deed if you didn't, then not only were they guilty of duress, but their own department rules didn't authorize them to do that. So, whoever told you that you had to sign the form or you would not get your tax deed, was a complete renegade. Include that as another reason on your strongly worded letter about why you consider your agreement unenforceable, and are rescinding it. "Rescission" means "undoing something." You would say, "I am rescinding my agreement, which was null and void to start with, anyway."
- As a final note, if you agreed to indemnify them but were not required to do so, what did they give you in exchange? In other words, where is the consideration for your indemnification agreement? In contract law, people exchange promises to make an enforceable contract (example: I promise to sell my house and you promise to buy my house) , or one party gives a promise and the other party gives something of value in order to get that promise (example, I pay you $500 and you promise I can buy your house for $100,000 some time in the next six months, but I'm not obligated to buy it.). In the case of the indemnification agreement, what did you get? You gave a promise to indemnify the county if something goes wrong. What did they give you? You didn't get anything you weren't already entitled to! They OWED you the deed. They didn't give you anything else to support the contract containing your indemnification agreement. So, it's probably also void on the basis of general contract law.
- Any letters you send to them, send by certified mail, return receipt requested. Save the green card in your property file. It might be important.
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