Judicial Sale

This is part 5 in the Tax Claim Life Cycle series.

After the Upset Sale, the bureau may petition the court to sell the remaining properties at a Judicial Sale.  The key difference between an Upset Sale and Judicial Sale is that properties at Judicial Sale are sold free and clear of all liens.  Most counties set the minimum bid price at the cost of administering the parcel to that point.

Court Petition

The petition:

  • *may* be filed immediately following the sale, but
  • *must* be filed within 12 months, or
  • *filed immediately* at any taxing district’s request

The bureau must include the following on said petition:

  1. the relevant tax claim for each property
  2. that the taxes remain unpaid and there is no stay of sale agreement in place
  3. the date of the Upset Sale
  4. the Upset Sale price
  5. that no bid met the minimum required Upset Sale price

Lien Search to Identify Interested Parties

Along with the above petition, the bureau must present the results of a lien search it conducted on each parcel.  The court will then grant a rule allowing each interested party 30 days to appear and show cause before the court why its interest should not be cleared.

Service of Rule

The sheriff’s office must personally serve each interested party within the county.

For parties outside of the county, but within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the sheriff’s office may deputize the sheriff of any other county to provide personal service.

For parties outside the Commonwealth, the sheriff may send the rule via registered mail, return receipt requested, to the party’s last known address.  The rule must be mailed at least 15 days before the cutoff date for challenging the Judicial Sale.

The interested party need not sign and acknowledge receipt of the rule to constitute sufficient service.  The sheriff need only provide proof of the outcome of the mailing; i.e., whether the rule was signed for, refused, or could not be delivered.

Court Order for Judicial Sale

If the court is satisfied that all interested parties have been properly notified and the bureau has met all other requirements, it shall order that the parcels included in the petition be sold “free and clear of all tax and municipal claims, mortgages, liens, charges and estates…”

The bureau may request that the court schedule the sale to be held on-location at each property.  Alternatively, the court may schedule a single sale date where multiple properties are sold from a single location (often the county courthouse).

For more information, refer to sections 610-612 and 616 of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law.

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