NEW ORLEANS — The city of New Orleans is facing a lawsuit after it allegedly demolished a house it sold at a public auction without notifying the new owner.
David Garrett, who purchased the house in October 2015 for $7,010, filed the suit in federal court requesting unspecified damages.
Garrett and his wife, Lourdes T. Archbold-Garrett, have been investing in the city of New Orleans for several years by purchasing houses and other properties that are listed as “blighted.” The couple renovates the structures. That’s exactly what they were planning to do with a townhouse on the Interstate 10 service road that they purchased in October 2015.
“I purchased that property from the city of New Orleans, and three months later they tore it down, Garrett told the Louisiana Record.
According to Garrett, the city failed to clear all of the previous liens when it sold the property.
“Civicsource.com is the website where they auction off all the properties that have not paid taxes in several years; anyone can buy them. It’s open to the public,” he said. “One of the stipulations that they give us as buyers is that all liens would be released.”
Garrett got a call from his Realtor about notices at the property concerning its demolition and called the city in mid-December 2015. At that time, he said he was told that the city had straightened out the problem and that he had nothing to worry about. In fact, the city sent a letter dated Jan. 25, 2016, notarized and signed by the city attorney attesting to the fact that all the liens had been cleared for the property. That letter did little to stop the demolition of the property two days later on Jan. 27.
“When I purchased it, (the liens) all should have been cleared, but the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, so the left hand went ahead and demolished it anyway,” Garrett said.
Adding insult to injury, the city sent Garrett a bill of $11,170 for the demolition.
The lawsuit that Garrett filed in federal court on Oct. 26 asks for unspecified damages. That doesn’t mean that Garrett expects to see a payment from New Orleans.
“The city of New Orleans notoriously doesn’t pay their bills, so even if I win, I’m not going to get paid,” he said.
Garrett said he and his wife are continuing to invest in the city where they plan to retire. They will continue to buy rental properties and make improvements. They won’t, however, be purchasing any more severely dilapidated homes.
“I’m just not going to buy anymore blighted properties; that’s all,” he said.
In the past, he has purchased and renovated properties in Gert Town, and Hollygrove.
“One I’m doing right now, by the end of the month, I will have put $124,000 in renovations into it," he said, talking about a house on South Robertson Street in Central City.