Appeals from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Potter County in case of In Re: Sale of Properties by the Tax Claim Bureau of Potter County on September 11, 1978, No. 9 of 1979 Civil Division.
Thomas G. Wagner, for Levern Erich.
John A. Duvall, with him D. Bruce Cahilly, for Tax Claim Bureau.
Judges Mencer, Rogers and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.
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Levern Erich and the Tax Claim Bureau of Potter County cross-appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Potter County on Erich's exceptions to real estate sales held by the bureau in September 1978, when Erich was one of the purchasers.
Although the bureau belatedly raises a question as to Erich's standing, that issue need not detain us because he clearly has standing; he has a substantial pecuniary interest in the sales, as to which he has alleged fatal procedural irregularities.
The parties agree that Section 703 of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law*fn1 governs the challenged sales. Section 703(a) provides that each sale shall be made in the manner provided in Articles III and VI of that law, "except that it shall be a simple public sale with
[ 57 Pa. Commw. Page 438]
no upset price, and shall divest only the lien of tax claims and tax judgments." Subsection (a) also provides that "[t]he notices to be given of such sale, as required in Article VI, shall state that there is no upset price and that the sale shall divest only the lien of taxes and tax judgments."
That section disposes of this case, because the notice of sale published by the bureau fulfilled neither of those requirements; on the contrary, that notice actually recited upset prices for the properties involved here, and stated that "[n]o sale will be made unless the bid is at least equal to the upset price", in absolute conflict with Section 703.
The bureau's failure to comply with the statutory mandate requires us to set aside the sales to Erich. "If the proper notice required by the Act is not given, the tax sale must be set aside." Daubenspeck Appeal, 48 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 612, 614, 411 A.2d 837 (1980). The trial court's refusal to do so was an error of law.
Accordingly, we will affirm the trial court's order insofar as it set aside five of the sales to Erich,*fn2 and will otherwise reverse that order and declare the remaining sales to Erich null and void. However, we will not set aside the entire proceedings of September 1978 because no ...