Can you foreclose on a church? – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports | Fort Lauderdale


(WSVN) – Back in 2006, a Miami-Dade church was fined by the county. They say they paid the fines. Now are being told there is a lien on their church and they are worried the county might seize the church, which is why they dialed up Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Its a big property with a small church. Led by a pastor who loves guiding her congregation.

Pastor Vera Joy-Naylor: “Our job is to prepare people, help people and do whatever we can to support them.”

But on Sunday, Vera wasn’t just thinking about caring for the people at church. She was worried about saving the church.

Vera Joy-Naylor: “They’re not going to take this ministry. God will make a way when there is no way.”

The problem goes back to 2006 when Miami-Dade County fined the Crown of Thorns Church $2,925 for code violations. Vera signed an agreement to pay it off.

George Naylor: “If you count it up, we pay more than in $,2900. I add it up to be $3,100.”

In 2010, George got a letter saying he still owed money, he replied I already paid it.

He thought that ended it.

Until this July, 13 years later, when he got a call from the county

George Naylor: “Hey, you need to talk to me because there’s a lien on your property.”

George went to meet with code enforcement to show the checks that he says proved he paid the fines.

He was told, ‘You didn’t pay the entire amount,’ and the fine was no longer $2,925.

George Naylor: “Aug. 23, the fine will actually be close to $50,000.”

George’s reply.

George Naylor: “Why are you coming after us 20 years later?”

Vera’s response, something strange was going on.

Vera Joy-Naylor: “I can lose my property. They can buy the lien, pay off the lien and take my, take my building from me.”

The small ministry doesn’t have the money to pay off the lien, and so that’s why saving her church was on Vera’s mind as she led her parishioners this Sunday.

Vera Joy-Naylor: “It’s a place of worship, but what can we do about it? See, that’s where God comes in, and I’m telling he told me to call Help Me Howard.”

Well we never claimed to be holy, but Howard, legally can we help Vera save her church from what they call an ungodly fine?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Maybe. If you are late or miss a payment, the county contract allows them to require the full payment immediately, minus the amount the church already paid. What makes this confusing: The church says they did pay the full amount and they have the checks, they say. prove it. Also, the county can foreclose on a church, but they almost never do because politically you just don’t go after churches.”

We contacted Miami-Dade County.

They sent a statement saying Vera defaulted on the agreement resulting in the accrual of additional penalties.

George disagrees, saying these checks prove he paid the fine in full.

The county said that letter from 2010, warning about a lien, showed the church still owed $325.

Again George disagreed.

We asked the count date the lien was filed and why Miami-Dade waited until 2023 to notify the church.

The county has not yet responded.

Miami-Dade then told the church they would lower the fine to $2,509 dollars, and if the church would pay it now, in full, they would release the lien.

The church paid.

Vera Joy-Naylor: “Oh my God. I can sleep at night because I didn’t know what we were going to do.

The Crown of Thorns Church is in the clear.

Vera and George can now focus on the ministry and not worry about losing the property after their call to Help Me Howard.

Vera Joy-Naylor: “I like to say God bless, Help Me Howard. God told me to call and look what happened.”

Glad everything worked out with the church, pastor.

Does the government have to tell you every year or two that they have placed a lien on your property and that the fines are piling up? Legally, no.

One notice and that’s it.

Feel like you have no prayer of solving a problem? Confess it to us because we are blessed to be able to help you out.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

More Information:
Check for liens
Broward County
Miami Dade County
Monroe County

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