If you live in Pennsylvania and you lose your home to a tax sale, you might be able to get it back afterwards. (Some counties provide an amount of time after a tax sale during which you can reclaim your home. This is called “redeeming” the property.) Read on to learn more about Pennsylvania tax sales and under what circumstances you might be able to redeem your home after one occurs.
When you fall behind in your property taxes, your home may be sold at an upset tax sale under Pennsylvania’s Real Estate Tax Sale Law, to satisfy the debt. If the home doesn’t sell at the upset tax sale, then the tax claim bureau may proceed with a judicial tax sale. (A judicial tax sale goes through the court system.)
Tax sales in Pennsylvania are complicated. Your best bet is to speak with an attorney to learn how the tax sale process works where you live. (For more general information on the tax sale process in Pennsylvania, see What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in Pennsylvania.)
In some states, the law allows a homeowner who loses his or her home to a tax sale to get the house back by “redeeming” it. To redeem, the homeowner must typically get caught up on the delinquent amounts or reimburse the purchaser the amount he or she paid at the sale.
In general, Pennsylvania’s Real Estate Tax Sale Law says that you cannot redeem your home after a sale (72 P.S. § 5860.501).
There are, however, a few circumstances when you might be able to redeem.
Some counties permit redemption. Some counties provide a nine-month redemption period during which you may redeem the home (53 P.S. § 7293).
You may be able to redeem if the county buys the home. Under some circumstances, if the county purchases your home at the tax sale, it may permit you to redeem (72 P.S. § 5879). To redeem from the county, you’ll have to pay all taxes with interest and costs, but less any penalties (72 P.S. § 5879).
Hiring counsel. To find out if you can redeem your home after a tax sale in your particular county in Pennsylvania, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney.
In some cases, you may be able to invalidate a tax sale.
After an upset tax sale, the tax claim bureau must file a report (a return) with the court. Within 30 days after the court confirms the return, you can file an objection with the court if the proper procedures weren’t followed during the sale (72 P.S. § 5860.607).
For example, if you were not given proper notice of the sale, you can file an objection. If the court agrees with you, it may decide to set aside (invalidate) the tax sale (72 P.S. § 5860.607).
In most cases, it is a good idea to take steps before you fall behind in your Pennsylvania property taxes to try to make them more affordable. For example, you might be able to:
To find Pennsylvania’s Real Estate Tax Sale Law, go to 72 P.S. § § 5860.101 through 5860.803.