A Florida couple that became infamous for decorating their home with outlandish holiday lights and props befit for the North Pole allegedly lived illegally at the residence, once owned by a Miami Dolphin player.
Mark and Kathy Hyatt “squatted” inside the upscale Plantation, Florida neighborhood where they transformed every year into the “Hyatt Extreme Christmas” house for 15 years without paying, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Broward County officials seek $34,724 in back taxes from the property after a team of property appraiser detectives investigated the family for seven months, interviewing neighbors and uncovering apparent fake deeds used by the Hyatts.
The Hyatt family was granted a homestead exemption the county said should never have been granted because they were not the rightful owners of the house.
“(Mark Hyatt) has received exemption(s) and/or assessment limitation(s) totaling $34,724.68 for seven years. The property appraiser has discovered that the taxpayer was not legally entitled to receive the exemptions because the applicant was not the Legal Owner,” according to county property appraiser records.
The appraisers’ investigation came after Kathy Hyatt inquired about a 2005 deed “resulting in the Hyatts’ unlawful ownership of the subject property,” the paper said, citing a memo from the county-hired real estate attorney.
The extravagant Christmas display was last lit up in 2017 as Mark and Kathy Hyatt divorced.
While in divorce court arranging for child support and alimony, Kathy Hyatt was asked to sign the deed to the estate when she revealed they had never owned the property and the deed was fake.
Mark Hyatt died three years later at the age of 56.
The Hyatts had come to reside in the contested home after a private investor bought out $50,000 of the home’s original mortgage, changed the locks and planned to flip the home after its original owner former Miami Dolphin Brett Perriman failed to pay off his $400,000 mortgage and faced foreclosure in 2004.
The investors were given a quit-claim deed to the property instead of an assignment of mortgage, according to the paper.
At the time, the couple was looking for a place to live in Florida when they came upon the Plantation Acres home that looked abandoned and were told that the original owners had moved to Georgia.
Mark Hyatt, a then mortgage officer discovered the Perriman didn’t have a valid deed and accused the investor of squatting, even going as far as calling the police.
Hyatt then created a fake deed of the property before breaking into the home and changing the locks, Kathy Hyatt said during an August deposition, according to the Sun Sentinel.
The couple found their way into the home and threw out everything the investors had inside so the investor “could not come back and say that he did have possession before we arrived.”
In 2014, the house’s decorations became a national hit, as the city of Plantation sued Hyatt deeming the popularity of the lights would cause an accident due to the amount of traffic it generated.
In 2017, Mark Hyatt unseated an incumbent city council member, only weeks after he declared victory over the city hall during the legal battles.
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