When you don’t pay your property taxes, Ohio law allows the county treasurer to collect the delinquent amount by selling tax-lien certificates. If a tax lien sale happens—and you don’t get caught up on the overdue amounts—the person or entity that bought the certificate may eventually foreclose on your home. Alternatively, Ohio law allows the county treasurer to choose to foreclose directly and, in the process, sell the home at a foreclosure sale to cover your tax debt.
Fortunately, in both a foreclosure following a tax lien sale and in a tax foreclosure, you'll have the opportunity to save your home by getting current on the past-due taxes, plus interest and various costs, before the sale is finalized.
If you don’t pay your property taxes in Ohio, the delinquent amount becomes a lien on your home. Once your home is subject to a tax lien, you could eventually lose your home through a tax lien sale or foreclosure if you don’t pay the delinquent amounts. (Learn about your options to avoid a tax sale if you can’t keep up with the property taxes.)
When you don’t pay your Ohio property taxes, the county treasurer can:
(To get further details on tax lien sales and tax foreclosures in Ohio, see What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in Ohio.)
In the case of a tax lien sale, the person or entity that buys the lien may eventually foreclose on your home if you don’t get caught up on the delinquent amounts.
Following a tax lien sale, a one-year period must expire before the purchaser can start a foreclosure to get ownership of your property. (Ohio Rev. Code § 5721.37). During this time, you can get caught up on the delinquent taxes, plus various other amounts, and prevent the purchaser from foreclosing. (Paying off the debt is called “redeeming” the property.)
Even if the foreclosure has started, you get the right to redeem up until the court confirms the foreclosure sale. (Ohio Rev. Code § 5721.38).
The redemption price depends on whether you redeem before or after the purchaser starts the foreclosure.
Cost to redeem before a foreclosure starts. To redeem before the purchaser starts a foreclosure, you must pay an amount equal to the certificate price (or prices, if there is more than one tax certificate on your property), which includes taxes and fees plus interest. (Ohio Rev. Code § 5721.30, § 5721.38).
Cost to redeem after a foreclosure starts. To redeem after the purchaser starts the foreclosure, you must pay the certificate price plus 18% interest per year, attorneys' fees, costs, and other fees. (Ohio Rev. Code § 5721.38).
If you can’t afford to pay the redemption amount all at once, you can enter into a payment plan to get caught up on the delinquent amounts. (Ohio Rev. Code § 5721.38).
If the county treasurer forecloses instead of selling the lien, a court will eventually issue a judgment and sell your home at a public auction to a new owner.
If the county treasurer starts a foreclosure rather than selling the tax lien, you get up until the court confirms the sale to redeem the property. (Ohio Rev. Code § 5721.25). You don’t get a redemption period after the court confirms the sale.
The redemption requirements depend on whether you redeem before or after a foreclosure starts.
How much it costs to redeem before the county starts the foreclosure. To redeem before the county initiates the foreclosure, you must pay the overdue amount of taxes, assessments, charges, penalties, and interest. (Ohio Rev. Code § 5721.18, § 5721.25).
How much it costs to redeem after the county starts the foreclosure. To redeem once the foreclosure begins, you’ll have to pay the amount stated above and you must also show that the property is in compliance with all applicable zoning regulations, land-use restrictions, and building, health, and safety codes. (Ohio Rev. Code § 5721.25).
If you haven't previously defaulted on a payment plan for delinquent property taxes, you may enter into a contract with the treasurer to pay off the debt. (Ohio Rev. Code § 5721.25).
Even though you’ll get some time to redeem your Ohio home before you permanently lose ownership, in most cases, it's better to take action earlier to try to make your taxes more affordable. For instance, before you fall behind in your taxes, you could: