Guide To Perfecting Title Following District of Columbia Tax Sale

Legal Article

Guide To Perfecting Title Following District of Columbia Tax Sale

Following a successful bid at the District of Columbia Tax Sale Auction, the successful bidder needs to follow a seven-step process in order to obtain a title in the property and transfer ownership. The process from start to finish takes approximately 12 months following the Tax Sale Auction.

Question Presented:

What are the steps the winning bidder must complete in order to perfect title in a property which was the subject of the District of Columbia Tax Sale Auction for which the bidder was awarded a tax certificate to the property?

Step One:

Following the conclusion of the tax auction, the successful bidder must pay the balance of the sale price within five (5) business days from the date of the last day of the Tax Sale (also referred to as the final payment date). Payment should be made by Cash, certified check, money order, cashier check, or bank check. It is important to note that personal and business checks will not be accepted by the cashier’s office. Certified Checks, money orders, cashier’s checks, or bank checks should be made payable to the District of Columbia Treasure.

The successful bidder may make payment at one of two locations: One, in person at the cashier’s office of the District of Columbia Treasurer, 1101 4th Street, SW, 1st Floor, Washington, DC 20024 between the hours of 8:15 am to 5:30 pm. Monday through Friday. In the alternative, the successful bidder may also mail their payment into Office of Tax and Revenue, Real Property Tax Administration, Assessment Services Division/Tax Sale Unit,

Step Two:

Four (4) months following the bidder making the timely final payment, the bidder may retain an attorney to initiate a title search on the property. The intent of the title search is to identify all parties who may have an interest in the property. These individuals include everyone who lives or has a stake in the perfection of title to the property.

Step Three:

Six (6) months following the bidder making the timely final payment, the bidder may file a foreclosure action in the District of Columbia Superior Court to foreclose the owner of records right of redemption in the property. The foreclosure action must name the owner of the record. This includes, all parties having any legal or equitable rights in the property, including lenders, trustees, the mayor, and the District of Columbia. In addition, to naming these parties the successful bidder must affect service of process on all named parties with an interest in the property unless the court authorizes some other type of service process.

Further, the successful bidder or his counsel must also mail a copy of the complaint. You must send this complaint to any other party who owns part of the property. Finally, a copy of the complaint must be physically posted at the property in a visible area. The bidder or his attorney must also provide the court with clear photographic evidence with the sworn affidavit of service.

Step Four:

Once served the successful bidder must obtain a judgment from the District of Columbia Court that forecloses all party’s right of redemption.

Step Five:

Upon obtaining the judgment, the successful bidder must serve the court order on the District Office of Tax and Revenue and request and pay a tax-sale bill for all outstanding taxes and fees associated with the property.

Step Six:

Once the winning bidder pays all outstanding taxes on the property, they must request a tax-sale deed from the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue.

Step Seven:

Following the issuance of the tax-sale deed, the successful bidder may take the deed. This will show them as the owner of the record and record it with the Recorder of Deeds. Once on record, the successful bidder will be the fee simple owner of the property.

Important Considerations:

It is important to be aware that the owner of the record may redeem the tax certificate on the property. That is at least up until the issuance of the order from the court. This right of redemption runs from the last day of the tax sale auction until the date upon which the Superior Court enters a final order to foreclose. If there is redemption, the owner of the record must pay a statutory rate of interest of 1.5% per month. This equates to 18% per year on the sale amount exclusive of surplus in order to redeem the property. Under some circumstances, the Office of Tax and Revenue can cancel the Tax-Sale.

In these limited circumstances, Tax and Revenue have noted a necessity to prevent an injustice to the owner of the record or another party with an interest in the subject property. Likewise, the Office of Tax and Revenue may terminate a tax sale if the property was sold with incorrect ownership.

Contact our DC Law Office for More Information

For more on a guide to perfecting title following District of Columbia Tax Sale, please contact Antonoplos & Associates at 202-803-5676. You can also directly schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. For general information regarding DC real estate law, check out our blog.