Exercising the Right of Redemption for Lost Estate Properties

Property owners who fail to pay real estate taxes will eventually lose the property to a sheriff sale. Properties which were previously owned by a now-deceased loved one are one of the highest risks of a sheriff sale. These family properties may be lost when the heirs do not open a probate estate and settle the legal affairs after the death of a loved one. The real estates often go unpaid leading to an eventual sheriff sale.

A former owner whose property was sold at a tax sale may have the right to redeem the property. A limited right of redemption is available in Philadelphia to former owners if the owner is eligible to redeem and acts promptly.

After a tax sale, the sheriff will acknowledge and deliver a deed to the winning bidder upon payment of the bid amount. The winning bidder becomes the new owner with a caveat – the title is defeasible. This means the new owner must transfer the property back to the original owner if successfully redeemed.

The right of redemption applies only to tax sale properties. There is no right of redemption in Pennsylvania for mortgage foreclosure properties. A property located in Philadelphia must be redeemed within nine months from the date the sheriff transfers the deed. Outside of Philadelphia, the right to redeem is lost once the sheriff transfers the deed.



Here are the requirements for the Right of Redemption in Philadelphia under the Municipal Claims and Tax Liens Act:

#1. The person seeking to redeem the property must be the original owner (or other qualified person such as a decedent’s estate or assignee).

#2. The property must not be “vacant” as defined by the law. The property is vacant unless it was occupied by the original owner or the same individual or basic family unit continuously from 90 days prior to the sale through the date of the acknowledgement of the sheriff’s deed. If the property is legally vacant, the right to redeem ends when the sheriff’s deed is transferred to the new owner.

#3. The person must file a Petition to Redeem the property within nine months of the date of delivery of the sheriff’s deed to the new owner.

#4. The redemption amount must be paid in full. The redemption amount is not the amount of unpaid taxes. It is the winning bid plus costs, interests, deed recording fees and other requirements as set forth in the law.

Former owners of lost properties and investors considering a tax sale purchase should be aware of the right of redemption.

As a probate attorney to estate executors, I help recover properties lost after a sheriff sale. If you know a person involved in a right of redemption situation, please forward our contact information:

Phone (215) 918-4242

Email info@pennsylvaniaprobatelawfirm.com

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