Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County in case of In Re: Upset Sale, Tax Claim Bureau of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, No. 76-11472-03-6.
John D. Trainer, with him Power, Bowen & Valimont, for appellant.
Roger A. Johnsen, for appellee.
Judges Rogers, Blatt and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. This decision was reached prior to the expiration of the term of office of Judge DiSalle.
[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 436]
An unpaid 1974 Bensalem Township interim tax of $23.10 resulted in a tax sale by the Bucks County Tax Claims Bureau (bureau), on October 18, 1976, of property, having an agreed fair market value in excess of $30,000, to appellant for $1,025. The Real Estate Tax Sale Law*fn1 (Tax Sale Law) governed the sale.
The bureau mailed the notices of the delinquent tax claim and the impending tax sale, required respectively by Sections 308 and 602 of The Tax Sale Law,*fn2
[ 48 Pa. Commw. Page 437]
by certified mail to the address of the property with the addressee as Vincent and Lois Irving, who had purchased the property in August of 1974, but who had since moved away. The post office returned the Section 308 notice of the delinquent tax claim (mailed June 26, 1975) marked "unclaimed." The following year, the bureau addressed the Section 602 notice of the impending sale to the same persons at the same address, but, having again received no reply, adjourned the sale until October 18, 1976 for the stated purpose of effecting "informal notices to record owners." On September 30, 1976, the bureau then mailed a second notice of the sale to the Irvings to the same address. The post office again returned it marked "moved, left no address."
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Federal Savings and Loan Association (the Association), which held a mortgage on the property, had begun mortgage foreclosure proceedings in January of 1976. As the successful bidder at a sheriff's sale resulting from the mortgage foreclosure, the Association purchased the property on September 10, 1976 and recorded its deed on September 22, 1976, eight days before the bureau mailed its final Section 602 notice and nearly a month before the bureau conducted the tax sale.
Notice of the mortgage foreclosure proceedings had been duly posted in the Bucks County Sheriff's Office for some time.
After the tax sale, the Association filed exceptions to it. The lower court overturned the tax sale with directions to the Association to pay the purchase price to appellant within 30 days of its order or within 30 days of such time as its order might be affirmed on appeal.
Section 602 of the Tax Sale Law requires that notice of pending tax upset sales be sent to each "owner." Owner is ...