Guide To Perfecting Title Following District of Columbia Tax Sale

Following a success bid at the District of Columbia Tax Sale Auction the successful bidder needs to follow a seven step process in order to perfect title in the property and be able to 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:

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 by bank check. In is important to note that personal and business checks will not be accepted by the cashier’s office. Certified Checks, money order, cashier’s checks or bank check 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 4:30 pm. Monday through Friday. In the alternative the successful bidder may also mail their payment in to: Office of Tax and Revenue, Real Property Tax Administration, Assessment Services Division/Tax Sale Unit,

Step Two:

Four (4) months following the bidder making a timely final payment the bidder may retain an attorney to initiate a title search on the property. This title search is intended to identify all parties who may have an interest in the property that may be affected by the perfection of title to the property.

Step Three:

Six (6) months following the bidder making a 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 record and 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 to any other identified party who may have an interest in the property. Finally, a copy of the complaint must be physically posted at the property in a visible area and the bidder or his attorney must provide the court with clear photographic evidence in addition to 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 parties 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 all outstanding accrued taxes on the property have been paid the winning bidder is required to request a tax-sale deed from 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 which will show them as the owner of record and record it with the Recorder of Deeds. Once on record the successful bidder will be the fee simple owner of the property.


It is important to be aware that the owner of record may redeem the tax certificate on the property at anytime 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 date upon which the Superior Court enters a final order to foreclose and end the right of redemption. If there is redemption, the owner of record is required to pay a statutory rate of interest of 1.5% per month (18% per year) on the sale amount exclusive of surplus in order to redeem the property. Under some limited circumstances the Tax-Sale may be cancelled by the Office of Tax and Revenue. In these limited circumstances, Tax and Revenue has noted a necessity to prevent an injustice to the owner of record or other 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.

For more information, please contact Peter. D. Antonoplos.
Peter D. Antonoplos, Esq. is the managing partner at Antonoplos & Associates, Attorneys at Law. Mr. Antonoplos’ practice focuses on estate planning and real estate matters. Mr. Antonoplos is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, New York, and Maryland. Mr. Antonoplos routinely lectures on real estate and probate law issues in Washington, DC and New York. Mr. Antonoplos lives in Northwest Washington, D.C. He is an avid chess player and motorcycle enthusiast. He may be reached at 202-803-5676 or