We first address Purchaser's argument that Owners lacked standing to file objections to the tax sale because they were not owners or lien creditors. The trial court determined that Owners were the actual owners of the subject property at the time of the sale and thus were the only persons who were adversely affected or aggrieved by the tax sale. Trial Ct. The court thus reasoned Owners had the requisite substantial, direct and immediate interest needed for standing to challenge the tax sale.
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We agree. See Pivirotto v. Consequently, they were clearly aggrieved for purposes of standing to challenge the tax sale. Further, the cases cited by Purchaser for Owners' purported lack of standing are all cases where the party attacking the tax sale lacked a substantial, direct and immediate interest in the property similar to that of Owners here. In Yardley, we determined a shareholder of a corporate property owner lacked standing to attack a tax sale.
In First Horizon, we determined a mortgage company which deeded the property to the Department of Housing and Urban Development prior to the tax sale, lacked standing to challenge it. In Crouthamel, the challenger did not acquire an ownership interest in the property until after the tax sale. Therefore, she lacked standing to challenge it. As such, these cases are clearly distinguishable from the present case. For these reasons, we discern no error in the trial court's determination that Owners had standing to challenge the tax sale. Having determined Owners had standing to challenge the tax sale, we address Purchaser's argument that the trial court erred in determining the Bureau failed to strictly adhere to the notice provisions of the Tax Sale Law by not making reasonable efforts to notify Owners of the tax sale.
As discussed above, the trial court determined the Bureau failed to comply with the additional notification efforts requirement of Section Relying heavily on our decision in Farro, Purchaser argues the additional notification efforts requirement of Section At first glance, our decision in Farro provides support for Purchaser's argument. In that case, the Farros were the previous owners of record. Their property was sold at a tax sale to Lavigne purchaser Lavigne.
The trial court set aside the tax sale because the Farros did not receive notice of it. The court directed the Farros to forward the purchase price and costs of the tax sale to the Bureau, and to provide evidence to the Bureau that all taxes were paid. In addition, the court directed purchaser Lavigne to execute a quitclaim deed to the Farros when the Bureau reimbursed him for the money he paid for the property.
The Farros apparently paid the purchase price to the Bureau and purchaser Lavigne delivered a quitclaim deed to the Farros. However, the Farros never recorded the quitclaim deed and failed to furnish proof that the taxes were paid. As a result, the tax bills continued to be sent to purchaser Lavigne as the record owner. Thereafter, the property was sold at a second tax sale to S2M Associates, a second purchaser.
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The Farros then sought to have the second tax sale set aside due to lack of notice. This time, the trial court denied the petition on the basis that the Farros were not entitled to notice because they failed to record the quitclaim deed prior to the second sale. The trial court also reasoned the Farros were not entitled to further equitable relief because they refused to comply with the express conditions of the court order by their persistent refusal to pay any taxes on the premises. Nonetheless, in Farro this Court recognized that in a petition to set aside a tax sale, the trial court sits as the chancellor in equity.
To that end, this Court observed the trial judge:. Since no evidence of payment of all taxes due and owing was in the Bureau's file, nor is there any evidence of such payment in the record, the Chancellor did not abuse his discretion by denying further equitable relief to petitioners who ignored his previous order.
As indicated by the above language, we affirmed the trial court in Farro at least in part on the basis that the Farros failed to record an otherwise valid quitclaim deed and failed to pay the delinquent taxes as ordered by the court. Conversely, in the present case, Fannie Mae sent Owners a non-notarized quitclaim deed in April Owners' counsel at that time then attempted to obtain a notarized deed. See R. Even when a return receipt is signed, the signature must belong to someone authorized by the owner to accept certified mail.
See Smith v. Pike Cnty.
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Tax Claim Bureau, A. Montgomery Cnty. Further, Owners openly possessed the subject property prior to and after the tax sale. They resided there and raised crops. Moreover, Section In the absence of any evidence of such efforts, the tax sale must be set aside. Given these circumstances, we agree with the trial court that Section However, the Bureau failed to make any additional notification efforts. For similar reasons, we believe Farro is distinguishable from the present case. In Farro, we determined the Farros' failure to comply with the trial court's orders to pay the delinquent taxes precluded any further equitable relief.
Here, the trial court found no such misconduct attributable to Owners that would warrant denying them equitable relief. Rather, Owners testified they believed the taxes were being paid through the mortgage. Moreover, in the present case, the trial court cited the Supreme Court's language in Tracy recognizing that the Tax Sale Law was never meant to punish taxpayers who omitted through oversight to pay their taxes.
The purpose of tax sales is not to strip the taxpayer of his property but to insure the collection of taxes. Further, the collection of taxes may not be implemented without due process of law. As noted, we agree with the trial court that the due process requirements of Tracy would apply here to Owners as persons whose property interests are likely to be affected by the tax sale. Given the totality of the circumstances here, we discern no error or abuse of discretion in the trial court's determination that Owners were entitled to mail notice of the tax sale under Section Purchaser also contends the trial court erred in setting aside the tax sale where the record established that the Bureau sent two notices of tax sale to Fannie Mae, the record owner of the subject property at the time of the tax sale, and where a final decree in a quiet title action adjudicated the validity of the tax sale against Fannie Mae.
To that end, Purchaser asserts the trial court erred in holding the Bureau produced no evidence that it met the certified mail requirements of the Section of the Tax Sale Law. First, the evidence shows the Bureau sent notices to Fannie Mae by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the same address in Philadelphia: Market Street, Suite , Philadelphia, PA This is the same address Fannie Mae used in its February quitclaim deed to Owners.
Second, in December , Purchaser filed a quiet title action against Fannie Mae alleging that the upset tax sale was valid and divested Fannie Mae of any and all right, title and interest in the subject property. Thereafter, the trial court, through Judge Leskinen, decreed that the upset tax sale was valid. In April , Judge Leskinen entered final judgment in the quiet title action.
Owners admitted these facts regarding the quiet title action. Given the quiet title action, Purchaser argues, the trial court lacked the authority to reach a different result in the present case. Therefore, Purchaser asserts, the trial court's ruling must be reversed. First, as discussed above, in light of the circumstances here, the trial court did not err or abuse its discretion in setting aside the tax sale based on the Bureau's failure to comply with the additional notification efforts of Section Second, Owners were not parties to Purchaser's quiet title action against Fannie Mae.
For these reasons, the quiet title action would not have preclusive effect on Owners. See, e. Silverman, Pa. Dep't of Pub. Welfare, A. Consequently, the trial court did not err in setting aside the tax sale regardless of Purchaser's quiet title action against Fannie Mae. For the above reasons, we discern no error in the trial court's decision to set aside the September tax sale. Accordingly, we affirm. The Honorable Gerald R. Solomon, P. Act of July 7, , P. However, the Bureau's deviation from the language of Section d is ultimately irrelevant given our determination that the trial court properly determined the Bureau failed to make reasonable efforts to notify Owners as the actual owners under the particular circumstances here.
Owner Richard Husak testified he thought the taxes were paid through his parents' mortgage. Notes of Testimony N. He did not become aware of the tax sale until September 20, , the date of the sale. He did not see the posted notice, which was obscured from view by his family's cemetery.
Owner Kelly Husak similarly testified she never saw the posted notice or received any notice at all concerning the tax sale. In tax sale cases, our review is limited to determining whether the trial court abused its discretion, rendered a decision without supporting evidence, or clearly erred as a matter of law. Purchaser points out that Fayette County, with a population of less than ,, does not maintain a deed registry in the office of the county commissioners. See Farro v. Therefore, the first clause in the definition, relating to registration, is inapplicable.
Purchaser also cites Szustak v. Although the owners were deceased, Mary Ann Szustak Ms. Notably, Ms. Szustak did not argue she was entitled to notice of the tax sale as a person having an interest in the property as an heir or executrix of her mother's estate. Rather, Ms. The trial court, however, determined that because the deceased owners were the record owners, the tax claim bureau need not provide notice to Ms. Szustak's decedent brother, even though he lived on the property.
Parties may also cite an unreported panel decision of this court issued after January 15, , for its persuasive value, but not as binding precedent.
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A single-judge opinion of this court, even if reported, shall be cited only for its persuasive value, not as binding precedent. Here, Owners not only continuously lived on the subject property and farmed it, but obtained a deed to it from Fannie Mae in , well before the tax sale.
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In addition, in Szustak, Ms. Szustak never specifically averred in her exceptions to the sale that her decedent brother, who resided on the property, did not receive notice; she only averred that she did not receive notice. See Szustak, slip op. By submitting this form, you agree to FindLaw. We respect your privacy. Thank you for subscribing! Explore Resources For Practice Management. Legal Technology. Corporate Counsel. HUSAK v. Reset A A Font size: Print. Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. David E.
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