Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County in case of In Re: Consolidated Return of Sale of Properties for Delinquent Taxes by the Fayette County Tax Claim Bureau, Property of Carl K. Nestor and Clarice E. Nestor, his wife and Herman Reynolds and Sarah Reynolds, his wife v. Carl K. Nestor and Clarice E. Nestor, his wife, No. 20 December Term, 1974.
Philip T. Warman, County Solicitor, for appellant.
George L. Hallal, with him Robert L. Webster, for appellees.
Judges Rogers, Blatt and Williams, Jr., sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Blatt.
The County of Fayette appeals here from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette County which invalidated a tax sale of real property owned by Carl and Clarice Nestor (Nestors).
The Nestors lived on the subject property in Perryopolis until 1963 when they moved to Smithfield, Pennsylvania, where they lived for nine years. In 1972, they moved to Reynoldsville, West Virginia and in 1973 again moved to Wolf Summit, West Virginia. Each time the Nestors moved they notified the tax collector of their change of address and in fact received all of their tax bills. The delinquency of tax payments for 1972 apparently came about due to the failure of the life tenant (Mrs. Nestor's brother) to pay his
share of the taxes owed. On June 26, 1973, after receiving a return of the unpaid 1972 taxes, the Tax Claim Bureau sent a notice of return and entry of claim to the Nestors by certified mail at the Perryopolis address, at which they had not lived for ten years. This notice was returned to the Tax Claim Bureau marked "unclaimed", and the notice of the return of the unpaid 1972 taxes was posted on the subject property on December 1, 1973. A subsequent notice of the tax sale was also sent to the Perryopolis address, and, upon its return "unclaimed" to the Tax Claim Bureau, the property was again posted with a notice of the tax sale. The property was purchased by Herman and Sarah Reynolds at the sale, and, upon learning of the sale, the Nestors filed exceptions contending that the sale was not properly conducted in accordance with the Real Estate Tax Sale Law*fn1 (Law). After a hearing, the exceptions were sustained, the sale was set aside, and this appeal followed.
The court below concluded that the Tax Claim Bureau had failed to comply with Section 308 of the Law, 72 P.S. § 5860.308 which provides in pertinent part as follows:
Not later than the thirty-first day of July of each year . . . , the bureau shall give notice of the return of said taxes and the entry of such claim to each delinquent taxable, by United States registered mail, or United States certified mail, return receipt requested, postage prepaid, addressed to the owner personally at his last known post office address. . . . [I]f a notice mailed to an owner at such last known post office address is not delivered to him by the postal authorities, then notice as herein provided shall
immediately be posted on the property affected. . . . [I]f payment of the amount due the several taxing districts for said taxes is not made to the bureau on or before the thirty-first day of December next following, . . ...