Municipal claim and tax lien law




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Compiler's Note:    Section 10 of Act 20 of 2003, which amended section 9, provided that the amendment of section 9 shall be retroactive to January 1, 1996.

Section 10.    Said claim shall set forth:

1.    The name of the municipality by which filed;

2.    The name and last known address, including its zip code, of the owner of the property against which it is filed;

3.    A description of the property against which it is filed;

4.    The authority under or by virtue of which the tax was levied or the work was done;

5.    The time for which the tax was levied, or the date on which the work was completed in front of the particular property against which the claim is filed; or the date of completion of the improvement, where the assessment is made after completion; or the date of confirmation by the court, where confirmation is required done;

6.    If filed to the use of a contractor, the date of, and parties to, the contract for doing said work; and

7.    In other than tax claims, the kind and character of the work done for which the claim is filed, and, if the work be such as to require previous notice to the owner to do it, when and how such notice was given.

Said claim shall be signed by, or have stamped thereon a facsimile signature of, the solicitor or chief executive officer of the claimant, or the chief of its delinquent tax bureau, except that, in counties of the second class, said claim or claims for county taxes, levies or assessments shall be signed by, or have stamped thereon a facsimile signature of, the county controller; and, in the case of a use-plaintiff, must be accompanied by an affidavit that the facts therein set forth are true to the best of his knowledge, information, and belief.

(10 amended Feb. 21, 2006, P.L.46, No.18)

Section 11.   The property described in tax claims shall include the whole property against which the tax is levied. The property described in municipal claims may include the whole contiguous property, or it may include only the lot in front of or upon which the work is done, or to which service is supplied, of such depth as is usual in properties of the same kind or character in the particular neighborhood. No municipal claim or tax claim shall be invalid by reason of including therein property to a greater depth than as above provided, but the court in which the same is filed may, at any time prior to judgment thereon, but not afterwards, upon it appearing that such claim includes property to a greater depth than is hereby made subject to such claim, limit the lien thereof to the proper depth. Where any owner or owners of property abutting on a highway conveys or convey, or at any time heretofore has or have conveyed, a strip of land abutting on said highway, which strip is too narrow to be used as a site for the smallest width dwelling allowed by law to be erected thereon, such conveyance shall be deemed to be made for the purpose of evading liability for the municipal improvements made or to be made in such highway, and, in such cases, the assessment may be made at the option of the municipality, against the lot as it existed before the division, and the lien may be filed against the entire lot as thus assessed, joining the owners of both the rear lot and the said strip in the claim. In all cases where a tax is levied on or filed against separate and distinct properties, in one amount covering all, the proper public authority shall, if tendered with all costs, if any, accept payment of the portion of the whole amount of said tax chargeable upon each or any of the separate and distinct properties so charged together, according to the tax rate and assessed valuation thereof, and payment and satisfaction of any one portion may be made without prejudice to the claim against the remainder.

(11 amended May 4, 1927, P.L.733, No.380)

Section 12.    Any person having an interest in the property, whensoever acquired, may, after ten days' prior notice in writing, by leave of court, intervene as a party defendant and make defense thereto, with the same effect as if he had been originally named as a defendant in the claim filed. And the claimant may, by writing filed at his costs, strike off the name of any defendant therein, and may substitute as a defendant, and issue a scire facias against, any person who may have any interest therein as owner, or who is the personal representative of an owner who has died either before or after filing the claim, but such substitution shall always be without prejudice to any intervening rights.

Section 13.    In all cases where a tax or municipal claim is levied on or filed against separate and distinct properties as one estate, it shall and may be lawful for the proper public authority, either before or after filing a claim therefor, to apportion the same ratably upon the separate and distinct properties so assessed together. And the court in which the claim is filed, on proof that the properties were separate and distinct at the time the tax was levied or the work was done, shall, at any stage of the proceedings, apportion the charge against such properties. When apportioned, they shall be treated and considered in all respects as if separate and distinct claims had been filed; and payment and satisfaction of any one portion may be made without prejudice to the claim as against the rest.

Section 14.    Any defendant named in the claim, or any person allowed to intervene and defend thereagainst, may, at any stage of the proceedings, present his petition, under oath or affirmation, setting forth that he has a defense in whole or in part thereto, and of what it consists; and praying that a rule be granted upon the claimant to file an affidavit of the amount claimed by him, and to show cause why the petitioner should not have leave to pay money into court; and, in the case of a municipal claim, to enter security in lieu of the claim; whereupon a rule shall be granted as prayed for. Upon the pleadings filed, or from the claim and the affidavit of defense, and without a petition where an affidavit of defense has been filed, the court shall determine how much of the claim is admitted or not sufficiently denied; and shall enter a decree that upon payment by such petitioner to the claimant of the amount thus found to be due, with interest and costs if anything be found to be due, or upon payment into court, if the claimant refuses to accept the same, and upon payment into court of a sum sufficient to cover the balance claimed, with interest and costs, or upon the entry of approved security in the case of a municipal claim, that such claim shall be wholly discharged as a lien against the property described therein, and shall be stricken from the judgment index. Thereafter the material, disputed facts, if any, shall be tried by a jury, without further pleadings, with the same effect as if a writ of scire facias had duly issued upon said claim, to recover the balance thereof; but the jury shall be sworn to try the issues between the claimant and the parties who paid the fund into court or entered security, and verdict, judgment and payment, or execution, shall follow as in other cases. The same course may be pursued, at the instance of any owner, where the claim has not in fact been filed, and if, in that event, the petitioner complies with the decree made, the money paid into court or security entered shall stand in lieu of the claim and the latter shall not be filed, and if filed shall be stricken off upon motion.

Section 15.   Such tax, municipal or other claim if filed within the period aforesaid, shall remain a lien upon said properties until fully paid and satisfied: Provided, That either a suggestion of nonpayment and an averment of default, in the form hereinafter provided, be filed, either before or after judgment on the scire facias or else a writ of scire facias, in the form herein provided, be issued to revive the same, within each period of twenty years following--(a) the date on which said claim was filed, (b) the date on which a writ of scire facias was issued thereon, (c) the date on which any judgment was entered thereon, (d) the date on which a previous suggestion of nonpayment and default was filed thereon, or (e) the date on which a judgment of revival was obtained thereon, except that in cities and school districts of the first class with respect to taxes and other municipal claims, the period within which such liens may be revived shall be twenty years.

The suggestion and averment shall be in the following form, under the caption of the claim:

And now ............................., the claimant, by ................................., its solicitor, or by the chief of its delinquent tax bureau, or, in counties of the second class, by the county controller, suggests of record that the above claim is still due and owing to the claimant, and avers that the owner is still in default for nonpayment thereof. The prothonotary is hereby directed to enter this suggestion and averment on the municipal lien or the proper docket of the claim, and also to index it upon the judgment index and on the locality index of the court, for the purpose of continuing the lien of the claim.

Such suggestion and averment shall be signed by, or have stamped thereon a facsimile signature of, the solicitor or chief executive officer of the claimant, or the chief of its delinquent tax bureau, except in counties of the second class, in which case it shall be signed by, or have stamped thereon a facsimile signature of, the county controller. The prothonotary shall docket and index the suggestion and averments directed therein.

The filing and indexing of such suggestion and averment within twenty years, or in any city or school district of the first class within twenty years, of filing the claim or the issuing of any writ of scire facias thereon, or of any judgment thereon, or of the filing of any prior suggestion and averment of default, shall have the same force and effect, for the purposes of continuing and preserving the lien of the claim, as though a writ of scire facias had been issued or a judgment or judgment of revival had been obtained within such period: Provided, That no writ of levari facias shall be issued upon a claim for the purpose of exposing the property liened to sheriff's sale, except after a judgment shall have been duly obtained upon the claim, as provided in this section, and such judgment must have been obtained within twenty years, or in any city or school district of the first class within twenty years, of the issuance of the levari facias. Whenever the lien of a claim has been revived and continued by the filing and indexing of a suggestion and averment of default, the claimant may, at any time within twenty years therefrom, or in any city or school district of the first class within twenty years, issue a writ of scire facias thereon reciting all suggestion and averment of default filed since the filing of the claim, and shall proceed thereon, in the manner herein provided, subject to the right of the owner to raise any defense arising since the last judgment.

If a claim be not filed within the time aforesaid, or if it be not prosecuted in the manner and at the time aforesaid, its lien on real estate shall be wholly lost.

The charge for filing the claim of a municipality or municipality authority shall include the cost of marking the record paid and satisfied. When the claim and costs are paid the municipality or municipality authority shall so notify the prothonotary.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this or any other act to the contrary, all judgments in favor of cities, counties and school districts of the first class relating to self-assessed taxes as defined in section 2 of the act of December 1, 1959 (P.L.1673, No.616), known as the "Self-Assessed Tax Lien Act," may be revived in the manner provided for in this section.

(15 amended Dec. 14, 1992, P.L.858, No.135)

Section 15.1.    (15.1 repealed July 28, 1941, P.L.522, No.211)

Section 15.2.    (15.2 repealed July 28, 1941, P.L.522, No.211)

Section 15.3.    (15.3 repealed July 28, 1941, P.L.522, No.211)

Section 16.    Any party named as defendant in the claim filed, or admitted to defend thereagainst, may file, as of course, and serve a notice upon the claimant or upon the counsel of record to issue a scire facias thereon, within fifteen days after notice so to do. If no scire facias be issued within fifteen days after the affidavit of service of notice is filed of record, the claim shall be stricken off by the court, upon motion. If a scire facias be issued in accordance with such notice, the claimant shall not be permitted to discontinue the same, or suffer a nonsuit upon the trial thereof, but a compulsory nonsuit shall be entered by the court if the claimant does not appear, or withdraws, or for reason fails to maintain his claim.

Section 17.   The claim shall be sued by writ of scire facias, and the form thereof shall be substantially as follows:

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to (names of the parties defendant), Greeting:

Whereas, The (city, borough, or other municipality, as the case may be,) on the ........ day of ........, A.D. 1........, filed its claim in our court of common pleas of ............. County; at No .........., ........ Term, 1........, M.L.D., for the sum of $........, with interest from the ........ day of .........., 1 ........, for (give the improvement, or that for which the claim is filed), against the following property situate in (give location and brief description of the property), owned or reputed to be owned by you.

And whereas, We have been given to understand that said claim is still due and unpaid, and remains a lien against the said property;

Now, you are hereby notified to file your affidavit of defense to said claim, if defense you have thereto, in the office of the prothonotary of our said court, within fifteen days after the service of this writ upon you. If no affidavit of defense be filed within said time, judgment may be entered against you for the whole claim, and the property described in the claim be sold to recover the amount thereof.

Witness the Honorable....................., President Judge of our said court, this..............day of.................., A.D. 1.........

 

....................Prothonotary.



(Seal.)

The claimant, when he files his praecipe for the writ of scire facias, may direct the prothonotary to add and insert the names of any persons whom the claimant may know to have an interest in the premises, and the scire facias shall be issued containing such additional names. But the parties to the claim may agree upon an amicable scire facias, upon such terms as may be agreed upon, with the same effect as if a scire facias, in the form aforesaid, had been duly issued, served, and returned; or the defendants, or any of them, may waive the issue of a scire facias, and appear with like effect as if the scire facias had been issued and served.

Section 18.    The sheriff to whom the scire facias is given for service shall add to the writ, as parties defendant, all persons, other than those named therein, who may be found in possession of the property described, or any part thereof, and in case no one is found in possession by the sheriff, he shall post a true copy of the writ on the most public part of said property; and he shall add to the said writ the names of any persons, not already named therein, whom he may ascertain to have an interest in the property described, or any part thereof, which writ shall then be further served as follows:

(a)    By serving, as in the case of a summons, such of those named in the writ, or added thereto, as may be found in the county in which the writ issued; and,

(b)    Where the sheriff has information that those named in the writ, or added thereto, or any of them, may be found in any other county of this Commonwealth, the said person shall be served, as in the case of a summons, by the sheriff of the county in which the said defendants or any of them may reside, he being deputized for that purpose by the sheriff of the county in which the writ issues; and,

(c)    In case any of those named in the writ, or added thereto, cannot be found by the sheriff, or their residences within this Commonwealth are unknown to him, or in case they reside without the Commonwealth, the said writ may be served by advertising a copy thereof, or a brief notice of the contents of the same, once a week for three successive weeks, in one newspaper of general circulation in the county, and in the legal periodical, if any, designated by the court for that purpose: Provided, however, That any defendant may accept service of said writ, in person or by counsel, with the same effect as if duly served therewith by the sheriff.

Where the said writ, or the brief notice of the contents thereof, have been advertised as aforesaid, the same shall have the same effect as if the writ had been personally served; and all those named therein, or added thereto, as to whom publication has been made, shall file their affidavit of defense, as required by the said writ, within fifteen days after the date of the last weekly advertisement of the said writ; and all those named therein or added thereto, who have been served as in case of a summons, shall file their affidavit of defense, as required by said writ, within fifteen days after such service. Service of any such writ may be made at any time within three months from the date on which it was issued, but it shall be served and returned at the earliest date possible, and the plaintiff may require its return at any time, whether or not it be actually served.

Section 19.   If no affidavit of defense be filed within the time designated, judgment may be entered and damages assessed by the prothonotary by default, for want thereof. Such assessment shall include a fee for collection to plaintiff's attorney in accordance with section 3.

If an affidavit of defense be filed, a rule may be taken for judgment for want of sufficient affidavit of defense, or for so much of the claim as is insufficiently denied, with leave to proceed for the residue.

The defendant may, by rule, require the plaintiff to reply, under oath or affirmation, to the statements set forth in the affidavit of defense, and after the replication has been filed may move for judgment on the whole record.

(19 amended Feb. 7, 1996, P.L.1, No.1)

Section 20.   Tax claims and municipal claims shall be prima facie evidence of the facts averred therein in all cases; and the averments in both tax and municipal claims shall be conclusive evidence of the facts averred therein, except in the particulars in which those averments shall be specifically denied by the affidavit of defense, or amendment thereof duly allowed. A compulsory nonsuit, upon trial, shall be equivalent to a verdict for defendant, whether the plaintiff appeared or not. If plaintiff recovers a verdict, upon trial, in excess of the amount admitted by the defendant in his affidavit of defense or pleadings, he shall be entitled to reasonable attorney fees for collection in accordance with section 3.

(20 amended Jan. 29, 1998, P.L.28, No.6)

Section 21.   The judgment upon such claim may be revived by writ of scire facias in the following form:

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to C.D. and E.F., Greeting:

Whereas, A.B., claimant, on the ...... day of..............., A.D. 1...., recovered judgment in the sum of ........... dollars against you, that the following described property be sold to satisfy the same:

(Here describe property in full.)

And whereas, We have been given to understand that though judgment, as aforesaid, was rendered, yet the amount thereof is still due and unpaid, and remains as a lien against said property. Now, you are hereby notified to file your affidavit of defense to A.B.'s claim upon said judgment, if any defense you have, in the office of the prothonotary of our said court, within fifteen days after service of this writ upon you. If no affidavit of defense be filed within that time, said judgment may be revived against you for the amount set forth, with interest from the time of its recovery, and said property to be sold to recover the whole thereof.

Witness the Hon................, President Judge of our said court, this...............day of................, A.D. 1.......

(Seal.)                 ..............Prothonotary.

But the parties to the judgment may agree upon an amicable scire facias to revive, or to an amicable judgment of revival, upon such terms as may be agreed upon, with the same effect as if a scire facias in the form aforesaid had been duly issued, served, and returned.

Where the name of more than one defendant is included in the scire facias described in this section, the prothonotary shall be entitled to an additional fee of twenty-five cents ($.25) for each extra name so included.

(21 amended May 20, 1949, P.L.1494, No.448)

Section 22.   Said writ of scire facias shall be served, and the proceedings thereon shall be conducted, as to persons who are found by the sheriff, in the manner hereinbefore provided for the original scire facias sur claim; but, in any and all events, a return of nihil habet to the writs to revive shall be equivalent to personal service upon the defendants. The practice and procedure following said scire facias to revive, so far as applicable, shall be the same as in the case of the original scire facias to collect the claim.

(22 amended Apr. 24, 1931, P.L.61, No.48)

Section 23.    All judgments for the plaintiff, whether on the original scire facias or any scire facias to revive, shall be de terris only, and shall be recovered out of the property bound by lien, and not otherwise; but the costs, whether as against the plaintiff, or the defendant actually defending against the claim, may be recovered by execution as in personal actions.

Section 24.   After the expiration of twenty days from the recovery of judgment, whether on the original scire or any scire facias to revive, except in cases where the property named is essential to the business of a quasi public corporation, the court shall, upon the petition of the plaintiff, appoint a sequestrator of the rents, issues, and profits of the property bound by the judgment, unless in the meantime an appeal be taken, and approved security given to operate as supersedeas. If the owner against whom the judgment is entered be in possession of the property sequestered, or the party in possession refuse to pay a fair rent, the court shall, upon petition filed and served, grant a rule, and, if it be made absolute, award a writ in the nature of a writ of habere facias possessionem, directed to the owner and/or the party in possession commanding him or them to deliver such possession to the sequestrator within fifteen days thereafter, unless such property be occupied by the owner and his family for a home, in which case he shall be entitled to retain possession for a period of one month from the time the petition was served upon him. A sequestrator, once appointed, shall have power to retain possession as sequestrator until all the taxes owing at the time of his appointment shall have been collected or paid. He shall have power to lease the property for a period not exceeding one year with the usual privilege of renewal or termination thereof upon three months notice. He may make such repairs to the property as may be reasonably necessary to restore it to and maintain it in a tenantable condition. He may advertise for tenants and collect the costs of repairs and advertising from rentals collected or from a redeeming owner. He may appoint an agent or agents to collect the rentals of the property and pay such agent or agents the customary commissions for rent collections. All commissions, costs, and necessary expenses shall be deducted from the rents collected before paying the net balance towards the taxes. Any owner of the property may redeem it from the sequestrator and be again entitled to possession thereof upon payment of the net amount of taxes then owing upon the property after payment of the commissions, costs, and expenses of the sequestration proceedings. Upon payment of all taxes owing, either by a redeeming owner or by collection of rentals, the sequestrator shall transfer the possession of the property to the owner or owners subject to any existing lease or leases given or executed by the sequestrator, which said lease or leases shall be assigned to the owner.

Sequestrators appointed under this act shall have and exercise all the powers, and shall be entitled to use, all the remedies conferred by the laws of this Commonwealth upon sequestrators in other proceedings, so far as they may be applicable.

(24 amended July 12, 1935, P.L.673, No.253)

Section 25.    Every claim filed, scire facias issued, verdict recovered, and judgment entered, in accordance with the provisions of this act, shall be docketed in appropriate dockets, and, except as hereinafter provided, shall be entered upon the judgment index of the court. When a claim is stricken off or satisfied, the name of a defendant stricken out, a scire facias discontinued or quashed, or a verdict or judgment stricken off or satisfied, a note thereof shall be made on such docket or dockets: Provided, however, That in counties in which the filing of liens for county taxes was authorized by law prior to the passing of the act of one thousand nine hundred and one, aforesaid, the method of filing, entering, docketing, and indexing liens for county, road, poor, school, borough, school building, township, and other taxes, assessed in boroughs and townships in such counties, shall remain and be continued thereafter in the same manner and form as in use prior to the passage of the said act, approved June fourth, one thousand nine hundred and one, notwithstanding the passage of the same.

Section 26.    (a)    It shall be the duty of the prothonotaries of the courts of common pleas to keep a locality index, in which shall be entered all tax or municipal claims hereafter filed, and, upon any written order therefor, they shall give a certificate of search, showing all the claims filed against any property. For so doing they shall receive the sum of twenty-five cents, and five cents additional for each claim certified, and no more.

(b)    (1)    In addition to the requirements of subsection (a), the department or public official responsible for collection of delinquent taxes in a city of the first class or other municipality that utilizes this act for the collection of delinquent taxes, and the county treasurer in a county of the second class, shall maintain as a public record a list of all properties against which taxes were levied, the whole or any part of which were due and payable in a prior year and which remain unpaid. This list shall describe the property and identify its location, provide the name and last known address, including the zip code, of the owner of the property and the amount of unpaid taxes, penalties and interest due, for all years other than the current tax year. If taxes on the list are paid or another settlement had been agreed to or if a tax sale of the property is held, this fact shall be noted on the list.

(2)    In addition to the requirements of subsection (a), the department or public official responsible for collection of delinquent taxes may report any nonpayment of taxes, including liens, to one or more consumer reporting agencies, as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (Public Law 91-508, 15 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq.).

(26 amended Feb. 21, 2006, P.L.46, No.18)

Section 27.    At any time before the property is sold, approved security may be entered for a stay of proceedings until the expiration of one year after the date of filing the claim. The entry of such security by the owner, before the entry of judgment on the claim, shall be equivalent to an admission by him that the property is liable for the claim. After the stay has expired the claimant may proceed upon the claim and the bond given, separately or simultaneously.

Section 28.   Execution upon any judgment recovered upon any such claim, except where the property named is essential to the business of a quasi public corporation, shall be by writ of levari facias in the following form:

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

To the sheriff of ............... County, Greeting:

Whereas, A.B., claimant, on the .........day of ......, Anno Domini 1......, recovered judgment in the sum of ...... dollars, with interest from the ...... day of ......, Anno Domini 1....., and the costs amounting to ..... dollars, in our court of common pleas of said county, of ...... Term ......, No. ......, M.L.D. against C.D. and E.F., that the following described property in your bailiwick be sold to satisfy the same, viz.:

(Here describe the property in full.)

Now, this is to command you that you expose the said property to sale by public vendue and outcry, after due advertisement ac- cording to law, and that return of said sale, with the moneys realized thereby and this writ, you make to our said court on the ...... day of ......, Anno Domini 1......

Witness the Honorable .........., President Judge of our said court, this ...... day of ......, Anno Domini 1......

Advertisement of such sale shall be made, and the deed to the purchaser shall be executed, acknowledged, and delivered, as in other real estate sales by the sheriff.

Section 29.   The plaintiff in any judgment recovered on a tax or municipal claim may, upon paying the sheriff's costs, fix an upset price to be realized at any sale under such judgment, sufficient to pay all taxes and municipal claims, and all accrued but unfiled taxes and claims, in full. No sale shall be made on a judgment recovered on a tax or municipal claim except for a sum sufficient to pay all taxes and municipal claims in full, except as hereinafter provided, and the plaintiff in such judgment may purchase the property at such sale, for that sum, if no one bids a higher price therefor, except when a municipality is the real plaintiff in such judgment, and no one else bids a sum sufficient to pay sheriff's costs and all taxes and municipal claims in full, said municipality may purchase the property for the sheriff's costs thereon, subject to the lien of all taxes and municipal claims, and liens not otherwise discharged by the sale under existing law.

Upon a purchase by a municipality for the sheriff's costs, any income received from the property by the municipality in excess of that necessary for the upkeep of said property and the payment of insurance premiums thereon, and the cost of improvements thereto, shall be applied to the payment of the costs of sale, then to payment of all taxes liened and unliened, in the order of their priority, the oldest being paid first, and then to municipal claims in the same order.

(29 amended June 5, 1937, P.L.1732, No.361)

Section 30.    Where judgment is recovered upon any claim, the property named in which is essential to the business of a quasi public corporation, the claimant shall have execution thereupon as in other cases of judgments against such corporations. Upon the distribution of any fund realized by a sale of the franchises and the whole or any part of the assets of the corporation, the court shall determine the actual value of the property bound by the lien, and the claim shall be preferred, with such other claims, to the extent of the value thus determined.

Section 31.   The lien of a tax or a municipal claim shall not be divested by any judicial sale of the property liened, where the amount due is indefinite or undetermined, or where the same is not due and payable; nor shall the lien of a tax or municipal claim be divested by any judicial sale of the property liened, as respects so much thereof as the proceeds of such sale may be insufficient to discharge; nor, except as hereinafter provided, shall a judicial sale of the property liened, under a judgment obtained on a tax or municipal claim, discharge the lien of any other tax or municipal claim than that upon which said sale is had, except to the extent that the proceeds realized are sufficient for its payment, after paying the costs, charges and fees, including reasonable attorney fees, expenses of the sale, and of the writ upon which it was made, and any other prior tax or municipal claims to which the fund may first be applicable. On any such sale being made all tax claims shall be paid out of the proceeds thereof: first, the oldest tax having priority; and municipal claims shall be paid next, the oldest in point of lien having priority. Mortgages, ground-rents, and other charges on or estates in the property which were recorded, or created where recording is not required, before any tax other than for the current year accrue, or before the actual doing of the work in front of or upon the particular property for which the municipal claim is filed, shall not be disturbed by such sale unless a prior lien is also discharged thereby.

In case the property be not sold for a sum sufficient to pay all taxes and municipal claims, together with the costs thereon, the plaintiff in any such claim may postpone the sale, without payment of costs, and file his petition setting forth that more than one year has elapsed since the filing of his claim; that he has exposed the property to sheriff's sale thereunder, and was unable to obtain a bid sufficient to pay the upset price in full; and, if the plaintiff is not a municipality as defined in this act, that he will bid sufficient to pay the upset price, and upon the production of searches or a title insurance policy showing the state of the record and the ownership of the property, and of all tax and municipal claims, mortgages, ground-rents, or other charges on or estates in the land, the court shall grant a rule upon all parties thus shown to be interested to appear and show cause why a decree should not be made that said property be sold, freed, and cleared of their respective claims, mortgages, charges, and estates. If, upon a hearing thereafter, the court is satisfied that service has been made of said rule upon the parties respondent, in the manner provided in section 39.2, and that the facts stated in the petition be true, it shall order and decree that said property be sold at a subsequent sheriff's sale day, to be fixed by the court without further advertisement, and the court may fix a common date and place of sale for more than one of said properties if it deems a joint sale to be advantageous. All property at sheriff's sale shall be sold, clear of all claims, liens, mortgages, charges, and estates, to the highest bidder at such sale; and the proceeds realized therefrom shall be distributed in accordance with the priority of such claims; and the purchaser at such sale shall take, and forever thereafter have, an absolute title to the property sold, free, and discharged of all tax and municipal claims, liens, mortgages, charges, and estates of whatsoever kind, subject only to the right of redemption as provided by law. In counties of the second class, upon return of the writ upon which the sale was made and upon the expiration of the statutory right of redemption and if no petition to set aside the sale is pending, the prothonotary shall satisfy all tax claims and municipal claims divested by the judicial sale in accordance with the order of court authorizing such sale.

Any person interested may, at any time before the sale, pay the petitioner the whole of his claim, with interest, costs, charges, expenses, fees and attorney fees, whereupon the proceedings on petition shall at once determine.

For the purpose of enabling the petitioner in any such proceedings to give the notice required, he may take the testimony of the defendant in the claim, or of any other person whom he may have reason to believe has knowledge of the whereabouts of any of the parties respondent, either by deposition, commission, or letters rogatory.

Any municipality, being a claimant, shall have the right, and is hereby empowered, to bid and become the purchaser of the property at such sale; and while the said property, so purchased, is held and owned by any county, city, borough, incorporated town, township, school district or a body politic and corporate created as a municipal authority pursuant to law, it shall not be subject to tax claims, unless it be redeemed by the former owner or other person having the right to redeem, as provided by law. If, however, a municipality shall become the purchaser at said sale, the former owner or other person, desiring to redeem, shall pay all taxes and municipal claims accrued and chargeable against the property prior to the sale thereof, together with the costs and interest thereon, and also all taxes and claims, whether filed or not, which would have accrued and become chargeable against the property had the same been purchased at the sale by some party other than the municipality.

Upon the delivery by the sheriff of a deed for any property sold under a tax or municipal claim, the judgment upon which such sale was had shall thereupon and forever thereafter be final and conclusive as to all matters of defense which could have been raised in the proceeding, including payment, and no error or irregularity in obtaining or entering of such judgment shall effect the validity thereof.

(31 amended Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1299, No.163)

 

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