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.
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.)
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).
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.
If a third party (such as an investor) was the winning bidder at the tax sale, you must pay:
If the city or town was the winning bidder at the tax sale, you’ll have to pay:
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:
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.