If a property owner fails to pay his or her property taxes, the County (or City of Baltimore) may auction off a tax lien on the assessed property. If, after a certain period of time, the property owner has not paid the assessed property taxes, the holder of the tax lien certificate may file an action to foreclose the right of redemption in the property.
Right of tax lien redemption
An action to foreclose the right of redemption by the holder of a tax lien certificate is a statutory equity proceeding. At any time after six (6) months from the date of the sale (or eight (8) months from the date of sale for owner-occupied properties in the City of Baltimore), and at least two (2) months after sending the first notice and at least 30 days after the sending of the second notice (which contains the same information as the first notice and cannot be mailed within one (1) week of mailing the first notice), the holder of any tax lien certificate may file a complaint to foreclose all rights of redemption.
After the tax lienholder files a lawsuit
After the tax lien certificate holder files a complaint, the court issues summonses to all named defendants (which can include mortgagees, beneficiaries under a deed of trust, trustees under a deed of trust and/or the county) and an order of publication for the foreclosure proceeding. Both the summonses and the publication state a date, no sooner than 60 days from the date of the publication order, by which anyone having an interest in the property must answer the complaint or redeem the property. The tax lien certificate purchaser must also post in a conspicuous place on the property (e.g. the front door) a notice setting forth: (i) the substance of the complaint and the relief sought, (ii) a description of the property in substantially the same form as the description appearing on the collector’s tax records, (iii) the time within which a defendant must file an answer to the complaint or redeem the property, and (iv) a statement that failure to answer or redeem the property within the time allowed may result in a judgment foreclosing the right of redemption. The posting may be made either by the sheriff or by a private person. If by private person, that individual will file with the court an affidavit setting for the name and address of the affiant, the caption of the case, the date and time of the posting, and a description of the location of the posting and will attach a photograph of the location showing the posted notice.
A final tax lien judgment
A final judgment may not be entered before the last of: (i) if actual service is made on the defendant, the passage of the time specified in the summons issued by the court; (ii) the actual time specified in the order of publication; or (iii) 33 days after the date of mailing the copy of the order of publication to each defendant.
The tax lien certificate purchaser is also required to send written notice accompanied by a copy of the complaint to judgment creditors, each tenant or “occupant” of the subject property, and the collector. Failure to notify these non-defendants does not invalidate the judgment, but could negatively impact the marketability of the title to the property.
After issuance of the judgment and at least 30 days before taking possession, the tax lien certificate purchaser is required to give any tenant written notice of the tax lien certificate purchaser’s intention to obtain possession of the property and that the tenant must vacate the property within 30 days of the notice. During the 30-day period following the judgment, the tax lien certificate purchaser may apply for and obtain, but not execute upon, a writ of possession of the property.
Contact our office to learn about buying Maryland tax liens
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Mr. Lewis, as well as the rest of our team, is committed to guiding you through the entire process of a tax lien purchase. We want to see your investment grow and benefit you as well as help you with any legal issue that arises throughout the process. Give the Law Office of Ross W. Albers a call today and start working with the leading Maryland tax lien attorney.