Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Chester County, Miscellaneous No. 12427 of 1964, in re return of tax claim bureau of Chester County.
James E. O'Neill, Jr., with him Susan P. Windle, and Rogers & O'Neill, for appellant.
David C. Patten, with him Fred T. Cadmus, III, for appellee.
Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, and Spaulding, JJ. Opinion by Jacobs, J.
[ 208 Pa. Super. Page 386]
The narrow issue raised in this appeal is the adequacy of the mail notice of tax sale given to owners of an unimproved lot of ground sold at tax sale under the provisions of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law of July 7, 1947, P. L. 1368, as amended, 72 P.S. §§ 5860.101-.803.
George P. and Mamie Kerr were the owners of an unimproved tract of land in East Whiteland Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. On August 24, 1964 they sold the property to Barchester, Inc. The same property was sold on September 14, 1964 at tax sale by the Tax Claim Bureau for delinquent taxes allegedly owed by the Kerrs. The sale was returned to the court and confirmed nisi on November 2, 1964. On January 4, 1965, Barchester, Inc. filed exceptions to the sale on the ground that the Kerrs were not given notice of the sale as required by law. After a hearing, held September 8, 1965, the court sustained the exceptions, invalidated the sale and ordered another sale unless prior thereto delinquent taxes and all charges and costs were paid in full. The County of Chester has appealed.
At the hearing the exceptant introduced the deposition of George P. Kerr and Mamie Kerr, who were admittedly the owners as defined by the act, in which the Kerrs testified that they never received any mail or other notice that the land was to be sold for taxes on September 14, 1964, and that they had no knowledge that the property had been sold until after the sale. The County Tax Claim Bureau then produced its records. The records showed that on June 19, 1964 a certified letter, No. 6963, was mailed to George P. and Mamie Kerr, 4307 Garfield Lane, Trevose, Pa., notifying them of the proposed sale. The director of the Tax Claim Bureau testified that his record showed that the letter was not received and that the Post Office was requested to make a trace of the letter. A request was made of the Post Office Department for duplicate or
[ 208 Pa. Super. Page 387]
return receipt after mailing for certified letter No. 6963 but no duplicate or return receipt was ever received by the Tax Claim Bureau. A letter from the Superintendent of Mails of the Mount Holly, New Jersey Post Office, which is discussed later in the opinion, was received three and a half months after the sale.
In this appeal Chester County relies on the following provision of Section 602 of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law, 72 P.S. § 5860.602:
"No sale shall be defeated and no title to property sold shall be invalidated because of proof that mail notice as herein required was not received by the owner, provided such ...