Life happens and sometimes bills go unpaid. In Louisiana, if you do not pay your property taxes, you may find your property being listed for sale in a tax sale.
What is a Tax Sale?
The purpose of tax sales is to collect taxes on properties. If property taxes go unpaid, the property goes up for a tax sale. Individual bidders will then offer to pay the taxes in exchange for an ownership interest in your property. This process will occur via a public auction.
The price of the sale is often the amount of taxes that are unpaid. The price can vary widely from $500 to $10,000. In order for the original owner to buy back the property, he or she must pay the tax sale purchaser the price that was paid at the tax sale, a 5% penalty, plus 1% interest per month, and all costs that the tax collector imposed on the property.
What happens if your house was sold at a tax sale?
Don’t panic. There are remedies. In Louisiana, the original owner typically has 3 years to “redeem” the property and buy back the tax title. If the property is deemed blighted or abandoned, the original owner has 18 months to buy back the property. The time limit starts from the date that the tax certificate is recorded.
What happens if my time limit to redeem the property has passed?
After the time limits set forth for redemption, the tax sale purchaser then has to file a Petition to Quiet Tax Title to finalize the process and become an “official” owner of the property. At this point, if you are the original owner, you should take two actions if possible: 1. File an Answer; and 2. File a Petition to Annul Tax Sale if there are good grounds.
The procedure for “quieting” the tax title is laid out in La. R.S. 47:2266. Moreover, Louisiana courts have held that all owners must receive notice of the tax delinquency and notice of the tax sale. If notice is not given, the tax sale may be deficient.
If your property is caught up in a tax sale, a consultation with an attorney is advised. If you are served with a Petition to Quiet Tax Title, make sure you seek legal counsel to get a thorough analysis of your particular situation. Every case is unique and nuanced and has its own set of special circumstances.