HAWKINSVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - A Hawkinsville couple is fighting to get their money back from the United States Department of Agriculture, after purchasing a foreclosed home from the department in February. The USDA still hasn't handed over the keys to the home or refunded the Walker's their money. So now the couple is taking the USDA to court.
"Here we are living right next door to a piece of property that we own," said Bonnie Walker.
It's been more than four months since Charles and Bonnie Walker paid the USDA $37,500 for an acre of land and a home next to theirs near the Houston-Pulaski line. The Walkers aren't the only ones who believe they own the home on Barrett Street.
"February the 7th I'll never forget it because we got a notice like two weeks prior to that," said Charlie Lester.
The Walker's thought they purchased the foreclosed home fair and square, but their neighbor Charlie Lester said his mother is living in that home because it's still hers and may be for some time.
"It's at a standstill because they (the USDA) have admitted that they did illegal foreclosure so that's why they got to do a rescind. My lawyers saying it could be a week, a month or a year." explained Lester.
Lester's late father was the original owner of the property up for grabs and says the financial issues on the home date back to the 1970's. 41NBC's "It's the Law" contributor Attorney J Davis says a notice has to be given 30 days prior to the foreclosure.
"So, the new person, if they became the debtor, that note were were entitled to notice if they lived in the property if the debtor when the note originated lived in that property," said J Davis.
Back in February the Walkers bid on the 352 Barrett Road property on the steps of the Houston County Courthouse. They left with the USDA auctioneer and paid for the home in full at the bank. The couple was given a deed of foreclosure, the paperwork they thought made the sale official.
"At a foreclosure you're entitled to a deed. Because you walk away with the deed that doesn't mean that the person is evicted from the property it just means that you own it," explained Davis.
"We thought that USDA was going to continue with foreclosure and evict the people, tell them to move, ask them to go somewhere else," said Walker.
After repeatedly reaching out to the USDA, with the help on their attorney, the Walkers still couldn't find out what was going on with their money or the property they bought.
"$3,000 on an attorney, $400 on taxes just to keep it from going into a tax sale and the $37,500 on the property that I can't set foot on," explained Walker.
The Walkers didn't ask for a key to the home because they trusted the USDA would follow through with the sale.
"It's a let down, it's a real let down," said Walker.
The USDA's attorney sent a letter to the Walkers acknowledging the department "erred in failing to provide the required 30 day foreclosure notice."
USDA representatives called this situation a legal matter so they declined to comment.
The Walkers said they tried to get their money back without going to court, but in the end that's the next step. The couple is suing the USDA and will meet in court June 20.