By Kyle Olson
For some people, parking tickets are just a fact of life. Many people are regularly ticketed and choose to either pay up or ignore the citations and hope there are no serious consequences.
Mountains of parking tickets across the country routinely go unpaid. While these seemingly minor debts don't just disappear, they rarely resurface and wreck a person's life.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently highlighted a case that can, without a doubt, be considered a ticket-ignorer's worst nightmare.
Peter Tubic, 62, received a $50 parking ticket in Milwaukee in 2004. He failed to pay the ticket, and as a result, has lost his $245,000 home to foreclosure.
Tubic owns a van that is parked in his driveway without valid license plates. He received a citation for not having the van properly tagged and is currently in a dispute with the city over the ticket. Over the years since the ticket was written, the fines have increased and the city claims that Tubic now owes $2,600.
The City of Milwaukee made many attempts to collect the inflated fine from Tubic, but were unsuccessful. As a last resort, a foreclosure action was filed against Tubic's home.
Tubic, who suffers from physical and psychological problems, admits that he did not pay the fine and ignored approximately 15 demands for payment that he received from the city. He does not deny that he was warned about the pending foreclosure action, but says that he was unable to handle the situation due to his various health problems.
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Richard Sankovitz attempted to give Tubic one last chance to avoid foreclosure. Sankovitz technically stayed the foreclosure judgment in order to give Tubic an opportunity to explain why he hasn't paid the fine or even responded to the notices.
Tubic still failed to respond and Sankovitz ruled in favor of the city's foreclosure.
Tubic does not have a mortgage loan and his home, which previously belonged to his parents, is fully paid off. Most foreclosure actions are mortgage foreclosures which are filed when a debtor falls behind on their house payments. In these cases, many people choose to file bankruptcy to stop foreclosure.
However, this case shows that foreclosure actions can also be filed in other situations if a homeowner fails to pay a debt.
Tubic has been disabled since 2001, according to Social Security Administration records. Documents in his file reveal that he has been diagnosed with psychological disorders that may diminish his ability to understand, remember and carry out detailed instructions.
He also suffers from chronic pain due to degenerative diseases of the knees and spine, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes. Tubic is also obese and has had other medical problems.
In 2004, when the parking ticket was issued, the van's radiator was broken and Tubic did not have the time or money to have it repaired. In order to get valid license plates on the van, it had to be repaired and pass emissions tests.
During that time, Tubic was busy caring for his elderly parents who were both ill. His father was suffering from dementia and his mother was dying from cancer. The house belonged to them back then, and Tubic was their live-in caretaker. The van was not his top priority.
Someone complained to the city about Tubic's van and a representative of the city showed up at the home. Tubic was then informed that he had 30 days to either move the van or get valid license plates for it, per city zoning codes.
Within several days of this warning, Tubic's father passed away. The van situation was the last thing on his mind at that point and it did not get moved or tagged within 30 days. Months passed and the van still sat in the driveway without license plates.
Each month, the City Department of Neighborhood services sent an inspector to the house to check on the situation. With every visit, a fee was assessed and added to the original $50 parking fine.
Tubic was sent a letter after each of these visits but never called or wrote to the city to object and explain his circumstances.
When the amount of the fine reached $1,475 and the city could not get any response from Tubic, a tax lien was filed.
Tubic continued to pay the property taxes, but never cleared up the fines, interest and penalties that have accumulated on the original $50 ticket since 2004.
At the time the foreclosure was filed, Tubic owed $2,645.
The real clincher of this story is that Tubic's turmoil was not caused by a neighbor's complaint.
The home that once belonged to his parents is now in foreclosure because Tubic's own brother, who he does not get along with, made the complaint about the unlicensed van in the driveway.
Jovon Tubic says that he called the city to complain because his mother asked him to do so.
According to Jovon, his mother woke up on the wrong side of the bed one day and told him to get rid of all of the cars in the driveway. Since he didn't care for his brother anyway, he was happy to make the call that started this foreclosure nightmare for Peter Tubic.
A court hearing in the case is scheduled for September 11.
If the city retains ownership of Tubic's house, he may remain there as a renter until the house is sold. After the home is sold, he could face eviction if the new owners do not want to continue renting the property to him.
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