Chan Chemuyil Revisited

by Mike Cadue  (October 2012)

In the August edition of Sac-Be I wrote an article about a number of homeowners in Chan Chemuyil who have been waiting for almost four years to gain title to homes they legally bought and paid for from a development company called Burn Group. To get any sense of what the problems are and why the homeowners have been waiting for so long, I suggest you read that article to bring you "up to speed" with the issues. Suffice it to say that Burn Group has, to date, not lived up to their legal obligations to the untitled homeowners who are on the brink of losing their homes and investments to Hacienda, in lieu of the developer not paying taxes on those sales.

So what has happened to these untitled homeowners in the interim? The first thing the untitled homeowners did was to start a letter-writing campaign to political figures in Mexico to make them aware of their plight. Through the hard work, and combined efforts and expense, of individuals in Chan Chemuyil, they wrote letters to the new Mayor of Tulum, the Governor of Quintana Roo, the Mexican Department of Tourism and the President of Mexico. In fact, the new President of the Chan Chemuyil Homeowners Club hand-delivered the letter to the Mayor's office and had a successful meeting with the Mayor's assistant.

Are there any tangible results from those letters? To date, no, but at least the proper politicians are aware of their problem. It would seem to me that the last thing politicians would want is news of improper real estate dealings in an area of Mexico where the economy is dependent upon tourism and real estate sales.

As with any group, there were differences of opinion as to the best course of action to follow next, but the groups worked very well together and continue to share information. So the group of untitled homeowners (which is in the range of 67 homes) split into two active groups. One group went to deal directly with Hacienda and another group retained a lawyer from Playa del Carmen, Claudia Ozuna.

Now the story takes an interesting twist. It appears that the papers filed with the courts by Hacienda, to place liens on the untitled homes in lieu of the developer not paying sales taxes, were incorrect. The liens, on the untitled homes, were therefore removed until Hacienda could file them correctly. That left a short window of opportunity for the untitled homeowners to file with the Registry of Titles in Playa. That was done by Ms. Ozuna on behalf of her clients and she received permission from the courts to file for titles. To date those untitled homeowners who retained Ms. Ozuna are in various stages of getting their titles (and, in fact, a few have received their titles). By various stages I mean it all depended on how much had already been done with their title documents. Hacienda filed new papers with the courts and the liens were back in place in a matter of two weeks. But that did not affect those who retained Ms. Ozuna because she was fast enough to submit an affidavit at the Public Registry to avoid any future liens.

The other group led by untitled homeowner Julia Genatossio, who is dealing directly with Hacienda, has had direct meetings with them and is maintaining the position that the houses were legally bought from Burn Group long before the liens were in place and therefore they should not be subject to having their homes seized by Hacienda, just because Burn Group did not pay their sales taxes. Those negotiations are ongoing and may be solved by applying for an emparo from the court to stop Hacienda from further action. For this group, to date, there has been no resolution to the issue but the Hacienda group continues to make progress and, on paper, seems to have an excellent argument. It should be noted that the group dealing with Hacienda directly felt the principal of spending more money and retaining a lawyer shouldn't have to happen since all owners in Chan Chemuyil paid Burn Group between $5,000 and $7,200 for closing costs that included title. They are absolutely correct and, in fact, some people can't afford to hire legal council since they have used their retirement "nest eggs" to purchase their dream home, which has turned into a nightmare.

Ok, so where is all this going and what will be the outcome? I have no idea. I would suggest that those who hired a lawyer are in pretty good shape, although they did pay more to protect their investment. By the way, in an interview with Ms. Ozuna, she said she can still help untitled homeowners but it will be harder and take more time. Time/waiting, something my friends and neighbours in Chan Chemuyil have been doing for far too long.

I am telling their story and would never presume to offer advice, although they have received enough unsolicited advice to "choke a horse." The homeowners involved have learned a lot about real estate investment in Mexico, the hard way.

It has come to my attention that the President of Burn Group Has refused to sign a Power of Attorney for the untitled home owners so that the homes can be titled to the rightful owners. That is a method of still having assets to pay Burn Groups back taxes to Hacienda.This does not affect those untitled homeowners who retained the Playa lawyer.

Chan Chemuyil

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