Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Pennsylvania

You might be able to get your home back after a Pennsylvania property tax sale by redeeming it. Learn more.

If you lose your home to a Pennsylvania tax sale, you might be able to get it back afterward. Some counties provide a redemption period after a tax sale during which you can pay of the debt and reclaim your home.

Read on to learn more about Pennsylvania tax sales and under what circumstances you might be able to redeem your home after one occurs.

How Tax Sales in Pennsylvania Work

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 property 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.) If a property does not sell at the judicial sale, it goes on a repository list.

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.)

What It Means to Redeem Your Home After a Tax Sale

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 paid at the sale.

When You Can Redeem Your Home in Pennsylvania

In general, Pennsylvania's Real Estate Tax Sale Law says that you can't redeem your home after a sale. (72 P.S. § 5860.501). But you might be able to redeem in some circumstances.

Some Counties Permit Redemption

Under the Municipal Claims and Tax Lien Law, some counties provide a nine-month redemption period during which you may redeem the home. (53 P.S. § 7293). A vacant property, however, isn't eligible for redemption. (53 P.S. Section 7293(c)). To find out if you can redeem your home after a tax sale in your county, consult with an attorney.

Also, under some circumstances, if the county purchases your home at the tax sale, it may permit you to redeem. (72 P.S. § 5879).

Invalidating an Upset Tax Sale

In some cases, you might 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 instance, if you weren't given proper notice of the sale, you might decide to file an objection. If the court agrees with you, it could decide to set aside (invalidate) the tax sale. (72 P.S. § 5860.607). The procedures and rules for filing objections or exceptions with the court can be complicated, so consider hiring a lawyer to help you if you want to challenge the tax sale procedures.

Avoiding a Tax Lien in Pennsylvania

Even though you might get some time to redeem your Pennsylvania home after a tax sale, in most cases, it's better to take action before you fall behind in the first place to try to make your taxes more affordable. Before your taxes become delinquent, you could:

  • look into whether you meet the criteria for a property tax abatement, or
  • challenge the taxable value of your home, if you think it's incorrect.

Getting Help

If you want more information about property tax and redemption laws in Pennsylvania, consider talking to a foreclosure lawyer, a real estate lawyer, or a tax lawyer.

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