An Act To Protect the Elderly from Tax Lien Foreclosures
Sec. 1. 36 MRSA §943, as amended by PL 2011, c. 104, §1, is repealed and the following enacted in its place:
§ 943. Tax lien mortgage; redemption; discharge; foreclosure
The filing of the tax lien certificate in the registry of deeds is sufficient notice of the existence of the tax lien mortgage.
In the event that the tax, interest and costs underlying the tax lien are paid within the period of redemption, the municipal treasurer or assignee of record shall prepare and record a discharge of the tax lien mortgage in the same manner as is provided for the discharge of real estate mortgages, except that a facsimile signature of the treasurer or treasurer's assignee may be used.
If the tax lien mortgage, together with interest and costs, is not paid within 18 months after the date of the filing of the tax lien certificate in the registry of deeds, the tax lien mortgage is deemed to have been foreclosed and the right of redemption to have expired.
The notice of impending automatic foreclosure must be substantially in the following form:
You are the party named on a tax lien certificate filed on , 20 , and recorded in Book , Page in the County Registry of Deeds. This filing has created a tax lien mortgage on the real estate described therein.
On , 20 , the tax lien mortgage will be foreclosed and your right to recover your property by paying the taxes, interest and costs that are owed will expire.
If you cannot pay the property taxes you owe please contact me to discuss this notice.
After the expiration of the 18-month period for redemption, the mortgagee of record of the real estate or the mortgagee's assignee and the owner of record if the real estate has not been assessed to the owner of record or the person claiming under the owner of record, in the event the notice provided for the mortgagee and owner has not been given as provided in section 942, have the right to redeem the real estate within 3 months after receiving actual knowledge of the recording of the tax lien certificate by payment or tender of the amount of the tax lien mortgage, together with interest and costs, and the tax lien mortgage is then discharged by the municipality in the manner provided.
The tax lien mortgage is prima facie evidence in all courts in all proceedings by and against the municipality and its successors and assigns, of the truth of the statements in the tax lien mortgage and, after the period of redemption has expired, of the title of the municipality to the real estate described in the tax lien mortgage and of the regularity and validity of all proceedings with reference to the acquisition of title by the tax lien mortgage and the foreclosure.
Whenever the person against whom the tax is assessed has died after the tax has been committed and prior to the expiration of the 18-month period of foreclosure and that person has left a will offered for probate, the probate judge of the county in which that will is offered upon petition of any devisee of the real estate on which the tax is unpaid may grant a period of redemption not to exceed 60 days following the final allowance or disallowance of that will. Notice of the petition must be given to the tax collector of the municipality in which the property is located, and a certified copy of the court order must be filed in the registry of deeds of the county in which the property is located.
If a scheduled payment becomes delinquent more than 18 months after the tax commitment date and remains delinquent for more than 30 days, the municipality shall send a notice of delinquency to the owner by certified mail, return receipt requested, that includes a statement that payment of the full balance owed must be made within 14 days of receiving the notice of delinquency or the right of redemption will expire. If payment is not made by the 15th day, the right of redemption expires. The municipality shall confirm the date of expiration by filing a notice of the expiration date in the registry of deeds where the lien was filed. A copy of the notice must be given to the owner in hand or by certified mail, return receipt requested.
This bill creates a preforeclosure process that municipalities must follow in order to successfully foreclose a tax lien on property of a homeowner 65 years of age or older. The preforeclosure process includes active municipal assistance with an abatement application and mediation if necessary to create a reasonable tax payment plan. This bill also creates additional provisions concerning the sale of foreclosed property for all homeowners including allowing a homeowner to pay the tax lien with interest and costs before a tax sale; allowing a homeowner to remain in the home until the sale is completed; requiring the use of a real estate broker when the property is sold; and requiring the return to the homeowner of any net proceeds from the sale after adjustment for taxes owed, interest, fees and other allowable costs.