Tax Liens and Tax Deed Certificates
When property taxes are not paid, the taxing authority issues tax certificates that are sold at a public auction to pay off the taxes assessed by the tax collector. The tax certificate is a secured lien over the property, and is not a transfer of ownership. However, if the tax certificate is outstanding and unpaid for two years, the owner of the certificate may apply for a tax deed and end taking ownership of the property.
A tax deed sale is the sale of property for past due real estate taxes and fees. The monies collected from a tax deed sale are used to pay off the holder of the tax certificate and other costs incurred during the sale process. Once the tax deed is sold, ownership of the property transfers to the holder of the tax deed. Upon purchasing the tax deed, the holder gains right of possession to the property, but must then file an eviction suit to remove any persons residing on the property. Further, the tax deed holder typically files an action to quiet title in order to eliminate all claims to title that may exist at that time. In order to obtain a clear and marketable title, several steps must be taken.