Peter H. Smith, 66 and recently retired, plans to sell his house and move out of state, possibly to Colorado.
But before he could sell it, he had to prove it was his, and that’s where he ran into problems with the state Department of Safety and Professional Services.
Smith’s two-bedroom home in Janesville was brought to the Rockvale Mobile Home Park on U.S. Highway 51 in more or less one piece several years ago. Smith’s late wife had bought it, Smith said. Even after the divorce in 2005.
Unlike traditional homes – which are built from scratch on site and registered with the county – manufactured and mobile homes are titled through the state.
Smith said the house was in his late wife’s name so he had to move it to him before it sold. She died in November and left it in her will, he said.
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So, three months ago, he filled out the necessary paperwork and sent it to DSPS, including an additional fee, so that the agency could expedite the request.
But the title didn’t arrive, and as the weeks went by, someone wanted to buy the place, which became a problem, Smith said.
There were “a lot of phone calls” to DSPS, Smith said. “I couldn’t even get anyone to answer the phone.”
He once traveled to the agency’s headquarters in Madison, only to find the counter closed that day, he said.
SOS emailed DSPS on July 20 and after six days of nods, DSPS Public Affairs Director Jennifer Garrett asked staff to call Smith directly to explain what he needed to do to get the title.
“There’s some department policy about texting over the phone,” she said, “and he doesn’t have an email address on file. So our staff will call but send a letter to the address on file, and the letter will still detail the necessary documents.
Garrett said the agency is refunding the money because accelerated payments didn’t result in much acceleration.
SOS spoke with Smith on July 28, when a DSPS official called the day before and said he had until July 30 to get the title. He explained that he was later told that the application was on hold because he could not send the death certificate. And the title paper is partially filled, he said.
Smith said that he had received word of the title; He plans to close the sale of the house at the end of the month.
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