If you live in Massachusetts and fail to pay your property taxes, you might lose your home to a tax sale or to a tax “taking” by your city or town. On the bright side, Massachusetts law provides you with some time following the sale or taking to pay off the debt and retain your home. (This is known as “redeeming” the property.) If you don’t redeem, a new owner will get title to your home.
A tax sale occurs when a homeowner doesn’t keep up with his or her property taxes. The tax collector then sells the home to satisfy the tax debt. Alternatively, the city or town may “take” the property rather than holding a sale.
The purchaser from the tax sale (or the city or town in the case of a taking) must then foreclose your right to redeem in order to get actual title to your property (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 60, § 64). (For details on the tax sale and tax taking process in Massachusetts, see What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in Massachusetts.)
In Massachusetts, you generally get six months (called a redemption period) after the sale or the taking to pay off the tax debt and keep your home. This is because the purchaser (or the city or town) must wait six months before filing a petition with the land court to foreclose your right to redeem (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 60, § 65).
When the redemption period is reduced. In some cases, the foreclosure process can begin sooner. Specifically, a city or town may begin foreclosure proceedings immediately if:
Under the Massachusetts statutes, you can redeem your home up until:
If you miss the deadline to file an answer to the petition, the court will still typically let you redeem the home up until it enters a judgment foreclosing your right of redemption. (If you want to redeem your home after the foreclosure starts, your best bet is to get the assistance of an attorney.)
In order to redeem, you must pay:
If the foreclosure has already started and the court permits you to redeem, you’ll also have to pay court costs and attorney’s fees (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 60, § 68).
To read the statutes that discuss taxes and redeeming your home after a tax sale or tax taking in Massachusetts, go to Part I, Title IX, Chapter 60, § § 1 through 105 of the General Laws of Massachusetts.