If you own residential or commercial real estate property in Maryland, you are required to pay property taxes on an annual or semiannual basis. If you fail to do so, authorities have the right to sell your property in a tax sale and collect the overdue amount.
How Does a Tax Sale Work in Maryland?
Under Maryland law, unpaid taxes constitute a lien on your property. Also, the unpaid tax amount will continue to accrue interest until it is fully paid off. If your property taxes remain delinquent for a sufficiently long period of time, your property will be sold off in a tax sale.
Before the sale actually takes place, the authorities are legally obligated to notify you of the same, so that you can pay off the pending amount and avoid your property from being auctioned off.
The Notice Period
First of all, the tax collector will send you a tax bill – which specifies the amount of taxes and penalties you have to pay – and a notice to inform you of the possibility of a tax sale – should you fail to pay the pending amount.
The tax collector is required to send you the notice at least 30 days before they take any step to initiate a tax sale. If you fail to respond to the notice and pay the pending amount within 30 days, the collector will publish a listing of all the delinquent properties that are to be sold off (including yours) in the newspaper.
The collector will continue to publish the advertisement for 4 successive weeks to give the property owners in question sufficient time to respond to the notice and pay the pending amount. The advertisement usually contains all the information pertaining to the tax sale – your name, the value of your property, description of your property, and the date, time, and place of the tax sale.
If – at any point during the four weeks of advertising period – you respond to the notice and pay off the pending tax amount, your property will be removed from the list of delinquent properties.
The Tax Sale Process
At the sale, your property – along with other delinquent properties – will be sold off to the highest bidder. The winning bidder is required to pay the pending tax amount along with the accrued interest, penalties, and the expenses associated with the sale. Once they pay the amount, they will be provided with a certificate of sale.
The important point to be noted here is that the winning bidder does not have the right to take ownership of your property right away. This is because property owners in Maryland have the right to redeem their property after a tax sale.
Redeeming a Property after a Tax Sale
Under Maryland law, a person whose property is auctioned off in a tax sale has the right to buy it back within a period of six months. The six-month period is commonly referred to as the waiting period or redemption period.
Within 60 days from the date on which the tax sale was held, the tax collector is required to inform you about the sale of your property and your right to buy it back within the redemption period. If you manage to pay the pending amount within the stipulated period of time, you can redeem your property.
The amount you have to pay in order to redeem your property generally includes:
- The total amount (taxes, interest, and penalties) paid by the winning bidder at the tax sale
- Interest accrued after the tax sale
- Penalties levied after the tax sale (if any)
- Other expenses borne by the winning bidder (attorney’s fees, title search fees, the cost of sending you notices, and so on)
If you fail to pay off your debts within the redemption period, the winning bidder will foreclose your right to redeem the property and take ownership of the property. Before they do so, however, they are required to send you at least two notices – 30 days apart from each other – about the impending foreclosure process. If you manage to pay off your debts after receiving the notice, you can prevent the bidder from taking ownership of the property and buy it back.
Worried about the Possibility of a Tax Sale? We Can Help!
If you have not paid your property taxes and worried that your property might be auctioned off or if you want to redeem your property, the skilled and knowledgeable real estate attorneys at Evans Law can help you.
We have several years of experience handling real estate cases – including cases that involve tax liens – and have an in-depth understanding of the relevant local and state laws. We can protect your rights as a property owner and provide you with the right legal advice to resolve your case in the shortest timeframe possible.
To find out more about tax sales and your rights as a property owner, call us today at 410-626-6009 or contact us online and schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our Maryland real estate attorneys.