Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Massachusetts

Massachusetts law provides homeowners with some time following the tax sale or government taking to pay off the debt and "redeem" the home.

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.

Losing Your Home to a Massachusetts Tax Sale or a Tax Taking

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.)  

How Long You Get to Redeem 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:

  • the home is abandoned (that is, you have permanently moved out)
  • the redemption amount exceeds the assessed value of the property, or
  • you consent in writing to the foreclosure (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 60, § 65).

When Your Right to Redeem Expires

Under the Massachusetts statutes, you can redeem your home up until:

  • the purchaser or the city/town files the petition for foreclosure or
  • the date set by the land court, if you make an offer to redeem in an answer to the petition (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 60, § § 62, 68).

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.)

How Much You'll Have to Pay to Redeem

In order to redeem, you must pay:

  • the original amount due
  • interest at 16%, and
  • all charges after the taking or sale (Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 60, § 62).

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).

Where to Find Massachusetts’ Tax Laws on Redeeming Your Home

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.

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