In Michigan, you’ll eventually forfeit your property to the county treasurer if you don’t pay your property taxes. The county (or other governmental entity) can then foreclose and, if you don’t get current on the delinquent amounts, you’ll lose your home. (If you are struggling to pay your property taxes, learn about your options to avoid a tax sale.)
Read on to find out the details about how the tax forfeiture and foreclosure process works in Michigan, the types of notices you’ll receive during the process, and how long you get to pay off the debt before you lose ownership of your home.
If you don’t pay your real property taxes in Michigan, your property will be forfeited to the county and foreclosed.
How a tax forfeiture works. A delinquent-tax property will be forfeited to the county treasurer on March 1st in the second year of the delinquency. However, a forfeiture does not mean that you have lost your home. In this situation, “forfeiture” just means that your home is going to be foreclosed. In fact, you get about a year after the forfeiture to pay off the debt before you lose the home to the foreclosure (Mich. Comp. Laws § 211.78g). (This year-long time period is called a “redemption period,” which is explained in more detail below.)
How a tax foreclosure works. The foreclosure starts during the redemption period. The foreclosing party files a petition with the court no later than June 15th in the second year of the delinquency (Mich. Comp. Laws § 211.78h). If the taxes go unpaid, the court will enter judgment in late March of the third year of the delinquency and the home is foreclosed (Mich. Comp. Laws § 211.78k). The county treasurer then takes ownership of the property and can sell it to a new owner.
Certain notices are required before you lose your home to the foreclosure. For example:
You get about one year to pay off the delinquent amounts following the forfeiture. This is called "redeeming" the property and will halt the foreclosure.
Your deadline to redeem. March 31st in the third year of the delinquency is generally the last day you get to redeem the home (Mich. Comp. Laws § 211.78g). (If you contest the foreclosure by filing a written objection with the court, your deadline to redeem is within 21 days after the court enters the foreclosure judgment) (Mich. Comp. Laws § 211.78k).
How much it costs to redeem the home. To redeem, you must pay the delinquent taxes plus some additional amounts. (Learn more in Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Michigan.)
The citations to Michigan’s tax forfeiture and foreclosure statutes are: Michigan Compiled Laws § 211.78, et seq. To find the Michigan Compiled Laws, go to the Michigan Legislature’s website at www.legislature.mi.gov. Click on “Chapter Index” on the left side of the page and go to Chapter 211. (If you need help finding the statutes, see Nolo’s Legal Research FAQs & Basic Info area.)