Councilwoman

Ellen F. Robertson

Democrat

 
 
Passion - Experience - Leadership
 

 Build a better city for a better tomorrow

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  • Visit publichealth.va.gov of updates, information, and actions taken by Commonwealth of Virginia.

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Dear Friend,

 

I've spoken to renters that are being negatively impacted from the selling of properties in the City due to outstanding property taxes being owed by property owners. There are many questions and there is a serious lack of information about what to do when your landlord doesn’t pay the taxes and the property is set to be auctioned off. 

 

People who own real property have to pay property taxes. If a real estate owner does not pay the required taxes on a property, the City will offer the property up for sale at an auction as a "tax sale" to help generate the lost tax income.

 

Virginia is a tax deed state. Tax deed states are states that allow the general public to sell and invest in tax deeds. Tax deeds are legal documents that grant the ownership of a property to a governing body or public municipality when the original owner is unable to pay their taxes. A person can then bid upon a tax deed in order to collect interest and penalties while the original owner continues to pay off their outstanding tax debt. Then, they have the option to foreclose on the property and sell it for a redeemable profit.

 

Here's the City's process: the City does tax sales by filing a lawsuit in court seeking permission to sell the property. (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3965). If an owner doesn't take steps to stop the sale—either by providing a valid defense or by getting caught up on the delinquent amounts—the court will issue a judgment. Then, the home will be sold, typically at a public auction. (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3969).

 

Owners can stop a tax sale by paying the delinquent amounts. Paying off the tax debt to prevent the sale is called "redeeming" the home. To redeem the property, you must pay all accumulated taxes, penalties, reasonable attorneys' fees, interest and costs, typically by 5:00 on the day prior to the auction. (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3965).

 

Also, Under Virginia law, if an owner can’t afford to pay the entire overdue amount at once, they can enter into an agreement to pay in installments over an extended period—though not longer than 36 months. (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3965). If owners fall behind in their payments, the City can void the agreement upon 15 days' written notice. Then, the foreclosure will proceed. Also, owners won’t be eligible to enter into another installment agreement for that property within three years of the default. (Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-3965).

 

Find out if a home or property will go to tax sale by asking the City Attorney's Office at 804-646-7949.

 

Click here for the Virginia law concerning when land may be sold for delinquent taxes; notice of sale; owner's right of redemption.

 

Additionally, if you reside in a home that will go to tax sale, pursuant to a lease, even if the property is sold your lease will stay in effect. If however you do not have a lease then you may be evicted. Paying the taxes doesn't prevent you form being evicted by the present owner or subsequent owners. If you do not have a lease I would recommend you reach out to the present owner to give you one. It is no disadvantage to him or her to protect you especially since it appears he/she may be loosing the property.

 

I want you to arm yourself with information and understand the process if this has happened to you or you find yourself in this predicament.

 

I'm also looking at other ways to have a conversation with persons being impacted by this. I intend to have every door knocked on that is on the auction list for the upcoming delinquent tax sale and determine if any rights are being violated and ensure tenants are aware of what's going on.

#together

Sincerely,

 

Ellen F. Robertson


 

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