Typically, once title has passed the previous owner has no right to the property, however, it seems in your case the owner may have been in process of fixing the issues when the auction was held, I've seen this a few times and it faults back to the lender/Lien holder. If the lien holder is the lender, most likely there are two departments, REO (Real Estate Owned) and Customer Service/Collections, which in most cases one does not know what the other is doing. The REO dept foreclosed while the Customer Service/Collections dept was working with the current owner to resolve. The pickle you are in requires your attorney to sort it out with the lender/lien holder. Remember, at an auction the lien holder is not doing the auction. At that time they are also not the legal owner, the auction is a court ordered event, which gives the owner the right to reclaim, or the bank/ lien holder to take legal ownership, or for a third party entity to take ownership. The purpose of an auction is to settle a court dispute between the lien holder and the owner, if a third party wins the auction they are settling the debts of the owner with the lender/lien holder, and the third party takes possession of the property which can be in the role of lien holder, or legal title holder, depending on the type of auction. Again your attorney will need to review the auction details and clarify what type of ownership your father has, or if the original owner has reclaimed by paying off the lien amount. If you've noticed I used Lender/ lien holder, the reason is because there are numerous agencies that can foreclose, IRS, City Tax Dept., Lender and other government agencies, and in some cases a contractor or other mechanic lien holder. The debt can be easily taken care of but the red tape and filings may lag not in enough time to stop an auction. Remember folks you don't get something for nothing. Good Luck!!