What Happens If I Don't Pay Property Taxes in Virginia

If you are delinquent on property taxes in Virginia, you could lose your home in foreclosure.

In Virginia, you could lose your home to a foreclosure if you don’t pay your property taxes. The foreclosure goes through the circuit court system and, after the court enters judgment, your home will be sold to a new owner.

Keep reading to learn how Virginia’s tax foreclosure process works, what type of notice you’ll get before you lose your home, and whether you can save your home from the foreclosure either before or after the sale.

The Virginia Tax Foreclosure Process

In most cases, if your property taxes are delinquent on December 31 following the second anniversary of the due date, the locality can start a foreclosure on your home by filing a lawsuit with the court (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3965). (Find out more about your options if you can't pay the property taxes on your home.)

If you don’t take steps to stop the foreclosure (either by providing a valid defense or by getting caught up on the delinquent amounts) the court will issue a judgment. Then your home will be sold, typically at a public auction (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3969). If no one bids on the home, the county, city, or town can purchase it at the sale (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3970).

Nonjudicial foreclosure is allowed for certain properties. A nonjudicial (out of court) foreclosure process can be used to sell an unimproved parcel of real property if:

  • it is assessed at less than $10,000
  • the taxes are delinquent on December 31 following the third anniversary of the due date, and
  • either the parcel is less than 4,000 square feet or the locality’s zoning administrator determines the property is unsuitable for building due to factors such as size, shape, or zoning (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3975).

This article focuses on the judicial tax foreclosure process.

Notice of the Tax Foreclosure

At least 30 days before starting the foreclosure, the tax collector must send you a notice. Among other things, the notice will let you know that you can ask to enter into a payment agreement to repay the delinquent taxes, interest, and penalties over time, though you can't take more than 36 months to repay these amounts (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3965).

The notice must also be published in a newspaper at least 30 days before the foreclosure (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3965).

Stop the Foreclosure By Paying the Delinquent Amounts

You can stop the foreclosure at any time before the sale date by paying all taxes, penalties, interest, costs (including the costs of publication), and attorney’s fees (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3965). This is called “redeeming the home.” (Find out more in Getting Your Home Back After a Property Tax Sale in Virginia.)

Keep in mind you can enter into an agreement to pay the delinquent amounts in installments. However, if you later default on the installment agreement, the collector can void the agreement after giving you 15 days' notice. At that point it can proceed with the foreclosure without giving you another 30-day notice or publishing notice (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3965).

No Right to Redeem After a Tax Foreclosure in Virginia

Some states allow homeowners get their home back after a tax foreclosure (also called "redeeming the home"), but Virginia law does not permit this.

Looking Up Virginia’s Tax Foreclosure Laws

To look up Virginia’s tax foreclosure statutes, go to § § 58.1-3965 through 58.1-3975 of the Code of Virginia. You can find the Code of Virginia on the Virginia General Assembly’s website at https://leg1.state.va.us. (If you need help finding the statutes, see Nolo’s Legal Research FAQs & Basic Info area.)

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