Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in South Carolina

You can get your home back after a South Carolina property tax sale by redeeming it. Here's how.

Under South Carolina law, you could lose your home to a delinquent tax sale if you fail to keep up with the property taxes. You do, however, get the opportunity to "redeem" your home, by paying off the tax debt within a certain period of time after the sale. If you don't redeem your home within the redemption period, you'll lose your property.

Understanding South Carolina Delinquent Tax Sales

In South Carolina, the tax collector can sell your home at an auction if you become delinquent on your property taxes. The winning bidder at a tax sale can eventually get ownership of your home if you don’t get caught up on the past-due amounts. (To get details on the delinquent tax sale process in South Carolina, see  What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in South Carolina.)  

How Much Time You Get to Redeem Following Delinquent Tax Sale in South Carolina

Under South Carolina law, you get a certain amount of time (called a redemption period) to pay off the tax debt after the sale before the winning bidder from the auction gets title to your home. This is called “redeeming” the property.

In South Carolina, you get 12 months after the sale date to redeem (S.C. Code Ann. § 12-51-90). If you don’t redeem within this time frame, then the property will be tax titled to the highest bidder. This means the high bidder gets a deed (a tax deed) to your home.

How Much You Must Pay to Redeem

To redeem your home, you must pay the tax collector:

How much interest you’ll have to pay.  The amount of interest you’ll have to pay depends on when you redeem the home.

  • If you redeem during the first three months of the redemption period, you must pay 3% of the bid amount.
  • If you redeem during month four, five, or six of the redemption period, you’ll have to pay 6% of the bid amount.
  • If you redeem in month seven, eight, or nine, then you must pay 9% of the bid amount.
  • If you redeem during the final three months of your redemption period, you must pay 12% of the bid amount (S.C. Code Ann. § 12-51-90).

Limitation on interest owed.  The amount of interest due cannot exceed the bid amount submitted by the Forfeited Land Commission. (The Forfeited Land Commission has the opening bid at the auction.) Specifically, this means the interest cannot exceed an amount equal to all delinquent taxes, penalties, assessments, and costs plus the current year’s taxes that are due (S.C. Code Ann.   § § 12-51-90, 12-51-55).

You must pay rent to redeem a mobile home.  If your mobile home is sold at a tax sale, you must also pay rent to the winning bidder in order to redeem it (S.C. Code Ann. § 12-51-96).

Notice Before You Lose Title To Your Home

Between 45 days and 20 days before the end of the redemption period, the tax collector must mail you a notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, which lets you know that the end of your redemption period is approaching (S.C. Code Ann.   § 12-51-120).

Reducing Your Property Taxes Before the Tax Sale

Even though South Carolina gives you a redemption period after a tax sale during which you can save your home, it is typically more effective to take action  before  you fall behind, in order to try to make your taxes more affordable.

For instance, you may be able to challenge the taxable value of your home if you think it is incorrect (too high). (Learn more about  the procedures for challenging your property tax assessment in South Carolina.)

How to Look Up South Carolina Tax Sale Laws

To find the statutes that cover delinquent tax sales in South Carolina, go to Title 12, Chapter 51 of the  South Carolina Code of Laws.

 

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