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LawTalk, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  30 years legal experience
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My mother owns a house in Amarillo, TX. She was awarded the

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My mother owns a house in Amarillo, TX. She was awarded the house in a divorce settlement in the '70s. She never changed the name on it from her ex-husband (who is now deceased) to her name. She now lives in Austin, TX. and is retired. She lives in section 8 housing and is on social security. The house never showed up when they did a search of her assets (probably because of the different name). She now wants to sell the property since she has no plans to return to Amarillo. Is there a way to sell this house without it showing up as income and hurting her current housing? Is it possible to transfer the house to me or another family member? Thank you.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 5 years ago.
Good afternoon,

I'm sorry to hear of the situation.

WOW!! Have you ever stated a fact pattern that is a huge can of worms. because you mother owned the property and did not live on the property, it was considered an asset and likely would have resulted in her being ineligible for section 8 benefits at all during all the time she has been collecting Section 8 benefits.

If the worker finds out about the property, the state could demand back payment of all benefits paid under section 8 and the local DA could prosecute your mother for welfare fraud. This is a serious issue and nothing should be done without involving a local criminal defense attorney first.

This is not just a matter of hurting her current housing situation---she could be charged with a felony and be jailed.

The Section 8 program does not have the resources to look for deed transfers, and the likelihood of detection if she were to transfer the property to you via a Quit Claim Deed would be minimal. If she sold the property, she would have to report the income to the program and the program would immediately know that she had defrauded the program in the past---not a good idea.

One avenue she might consider would be a meeting with a local attorney as I suggested---and possibly considering terminating her housing allowance, and selling the property and repaying back the state. She might be able to avoid prosecution if that were to happen.

However, I can tell you that her continued acceptance of the section 8 benefit continues to be a crime under Texas law.

I wish you the best in 2012.

I understand that you may be disappointed by the Answer you received, as it was not particularly favorable to your situation, nor was it what I sensed you were hoping to hear. Had I been able to provide an Answer which might have given you a successful legal outcome, it would have been my pleasure to do so.

Thanks Again,

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