NS Senior Loses Cottage in Tax Sale Despite Perfect Payment Record | GVS News

Last February, Nelson Miller received an unusual electricity bill for his rural Nova Scotia cottage. The 83-year-old rarely used the property in winter, so he called the utility to inquire. To his surprise, he was told that the people who had bought his property wanted him to pay the light bill. Miller was confused and said, “Pardon? What’s going on? My property is not for sale.” It turned out that the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s had sold the land without his knowledge due to a decades-old unregistered deed and taxes. Miller had bought two parcels of land on East Loon Lake in 1979 and built a small cottage on the roughly 35,500 square-foot property. However, he never registered his deed, which he now realizes was a mistake. The municipality did not know that Miller had purchased the land from the previous owner because he had not registered the deed. In 2015, the municipality started trying to collect taxes on the larger roadside parcel of land in a new account, but the tax bills went to a long-defunct post office box used by the previous owner. Eventually, the property was put up for a tax sale and bought by Luke and Christina Collings in June 2021. When they drove out to get a look at the property before buying it, they were surprised to find a cottage on it because the tax sale advertised the property as “vacant land.” The Collings eventually connected with Miller and realized that they had to return the cottage to its rightful owner. They hired lawyers and reached a legal settlement in May 2022, with the municipality paying the Collings back the $28,893 they paid in the tax sale plus legal expenses and interest, while the Collings agreed to give up their interest to Miller and he signed a new deed. Miller agreed to pay the remaining $2,272 in outstanding property taxes to the municipality. The Collings feel strongly that St. Mary’s should have done more and triple-checked whether the taxes Miller was paying on the lakeside parcel might connect to the property next door.