Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Rhode Island

If you default on your property taxes in Rhode Island, you could lose your home. Here are your last chances to "redeem" it.

If you don’t pay your Rhode Island property taxes, you risk losing your home to a tax sale. Luckily, Rhode Island law gives you some time after the sale to save your home by “redeeming” it. If you don’t redeem, a new owner gets your property.

What Is a Tax Sale?

A tax sale occurs when a homeowner doesn’t keep up with his or her property taxes. The taxing authority then sells the home to satisfy the tax debt.

Tax sales in Rhode Island are public auctions. Following the auction, the winning bidder gets a deed to your home (or a portion of the parcel), subject to your right to redeem the property. (“Redeeming” the property means paying off the delinquent amounts.)

The winning bidder must then foreclose your right to redeem in order to get actual title to your property. (For details on the tax sale process in Rhode Island, see  What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in Rhode Island.)  

How Long You Get to Redeem Following a Rhode Island Tax Sale

In Rhode Island, you get at least one year (called a redemption period) after the sale to pay off the tax debt and keep your home (R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-9-25). This is because the winning bidder must wait one year after the tax sale before filing a petition with the court to foreclose your right to redeem (R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-9-21).

You can redeem at any time up until the winning bidder files the foreclosure petition (R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-9-21).

Additional Time to Redeem

You may still be able to redeem after the foreclosure begins, but you’ll need to file an answer to the foreclosure petition or file a motion with the court. The court then has the option of allowing you to redeem (R.I. Gen. Laws § § 44-9-29, 44-9-30). Once the foreclosure is final, your rights are extinguished and the winning bidder gets a deed to your property (R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-9-24).

If you want to redeem your home during the foreclosure process, it is recommended that you speak to an attorney who can ensure that you take the proper steps.

How Much You'll Have to Pay to Redeem

If a third party (such as an investor) was the winning bidder at the tax sale, you must pay:

  • the purchase price
  • any intervening taxes that the purchaser paid to the municipality
  • interest at the rate of 1% per month
  • costs the purchaser paid
  • a penalty of 10% of the purchase price if you redeem within six months after the sale date, and
  • an additional 1% of the purchase price for each following month (R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-9-21).

If the city or town was the winning bidder at the tax sale, you’ll have to pay:

  • the purchase price
  • a penalty of 10% of the purchase price if you redeem within six months after the sale date
  • an additional 1% of the purchase price for each following month
  • intervening taxes
  • interest at a rate of 1% per month, and
  • expenses after the tax sale (R.I. Gen. Laws § 44-9-19).

How to Reduce Your Rhode Island Property Taxes Before You Become Delinquent

While you get at least a year to redeem before losing your property after a Rhode Island tax sale, it is probably better to take steps to make your taxes affordable before you get behind. For example, you could:

How to Find Rhode Island’s Tax Sale Laws

To review the statutes that discuss tax sales and redeeming your home after a tax sale in Rhode Island, go to Title 44, Chapter 44-9, § § 44-9-1 through 44-9-56 of the  State of Rhode Island General Laws.

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