Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Maryland

If you default on your property taxes in Maryland, you could lose your home. Here are your last chances to "redeem" it.

If you fall behind in paying your Maryland property taxes, the collector can sell your home at an auction. After the sale, the winning bidder must conduct a foreclosure in order to get title to your property. You do, however, get some time during which you can get caught up on the overdue amounts before this happens. (This is called “redeeming” the home.) If you redeem your property before the purchaser finishes the foreclosure, you get to keep your home.

How Maryland Tax Sales Work

In Maryland, a tax sale can occur if you don’t pay the property taxes on your home. The winning bidder at the sale (which is conducted in the form of an auction) receives a certificate of sale along with the right to eventually get ownership of your home -- if, that is, you don’t pay off the debt to "redeem" the property. (For more information on the tax sale process in Maryland, see  What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in Maryland.)

Redeeming Your Home After a Tax Sale in Maryland

In Maryland, you generally get at least six months after the sale to redeem the home (Md. Code Ann., Tax-Prop. § 14-833). This time period is called a "redemption period." During this time, you can pay off the tax debt and prevent the purchaser from getting title to your property.

The Winning Bidder Must Foreclose Your Right to Redeem

After six months expires, the winning bidder must foreclose your right of redemption in court to get title to your home (Md. Code Ann., Tax-Prop. § 14-833).

The redemption period is reduced for abandoned homes in Baltimore City.  In some cases, the winning bidder can start the foreclosure process sooner. For example, a person or entity that purchases a certain type of abandoned property in Baltimore City at a tax sale with a minimum bid of less than the overdue amount can start the foreclosure at any time after the sale date (Md. Code Ann., Tax-Prop. § 14-833).

The redemption period is reduced for certain homes that need repairs.  Also, if the home needs substantial repairs (or will need substantial repairs within six months) to comply with the local building code, the purchaser can start the foreclosure at any time after 60 days from the sale date (Md. Code Ann., Tax-Prop. § 14-833).

When Your Right to Redeem Expires

You can redeem up until at any time until your right of redemption has been finally foreclosed (Md. Code Ann., Tax-Prop. § 14-827).

When the Winning Bidder’s Right to Foreclose Expires

If the winning bidder does not start the foreclosure within two years after the date of the certificate of sale, the certificate becomes void and the bidder loses all rights to your property (Md. Code Ann., Tax-Prop. § 14-833). At this point, your property will probably be sold again if you don’t get caught up on the overdue amounts.

Notice About Your Right to Redeem Before the Foreclosure

In most cases, the winning bidder must give you two notices before it starts the foreclosure. These notices must let you know that your right to redeem will expire on a certain date. The winning bidder cannot start the foreclosure until at least two months after sending you the first notice and at least 30 days after sending the second notice (Md. Code Ann., Tax-Prop. § 14-833).

Amount You Must Pay to Redeem Your Home

In order to redeem you’ll have to pay:

  • the total overdue amount that the winning bidder paid at the tax sale for the property (plus interest)
  • any additional taxes, interest, and penalties the winning bidder paid
  • any taxes, interest, and penalties that accrued after the tax sale, and
  • certain expenses the winning bidder paid, such as postage and certified mailing costs for the required notices, attorney’s fees, and title search fees. (The longer you wait to redeem, the more expenses you’ll have to pay.) (Md. Code Ann., Tax-Prop. § § 14-828, 14-843).

Lowering Your Property Tax Liability in Maryland Before You Fall Behind

Though Maryland law gives you some time to redeem your home before you lose it to the winning bidder from the tax sale, it is a good idea to look into making your property taxes more affordable before you fall delinquent. For instance, you could:

Where to Find Maryland’s Tax Sale Laws

To look up the statutes that discuss tax sales and your right to redeem after a tax sale in Maryland, go to Title 14, Subtitle 8, Part III, § § 14-808 through 14-854 of the  Maryland Tax- Property Code.

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