A blind woman who has lived in the same house for 55 years is about to be kicked out of her home by a landlord who bought the land underneath the house for a mere $43 when the county put the property up for sale by mistake.
Now 67-year-old former librarian Dolores Pittman, who lost her eyesight due to illness and her job along with it, has to find somewhere new to live even though her entire income is only $1,000 per month.
That’s before she pays landlord Clayton Pullins $300 per month rent to live in her own house — the house he is now kicking her out of, and taking her to court over.
Pittman’s family bought the Cedar Lake, Indiana, house in 1958 from a church group, but the church still owned the land on which the small two-bedroom, one bath house sat.
"Back then you were able to have a house on a piece of property owned by somebody else and that is how this whole thing got snafued," said Lake County Treasurer John Petalas.
Pittman’s family paid taxes on the house but rent on the land.
In the 1970s, the church sold the land to the town of Cedar Lake. Or, so everyone thought at the time. Somewhere, signals got crossed. The town now says it never owned the land. Pittman (pictured) paid $10 per month rent to the town, money that the town has now returned to her.
But the church group that believed it no longer owned the property understandably stopped paying taxes on it. Apparently, according to Petalas, the church failed to include the small land parcel containing Pittman’s house in the package of land it sold to the town.
So the county put the land up for sale due to unpaid taxes. But because her family mistakenly never recorded their ownership of the house, no one told Pittman that the land underneath her home was being sold, which meant she never had a chance to buy it.
With no competition, Pullins, a resident of Chesterton, Ind., swooped in and bought the property for lunch money in 2009. Now, he wants Pittman out, even though she pays him 30 times more rent than she ever paid the town.
Pittman has tried and failed to get the land sale reversed. Her last hope is Center Township trustee Paul Bremer who said this week that his office will attempt to find emergency housing for Pittman.