Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County in the case of In Re: The Sale of Properties by The Clearfield County Tax Claim Bureau for Unpaid Tax Claim Liens, Miscellaneous Docket 8, Page 580, Involving: Treasure Lake Lot L 406-15, Sandy Township, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, assessed in the name of Louis J. Casanta and Nancy L. Casanta, No. 128-21-C2-15-406.
John Sughrue, for appellants.
David E. Blakley, Blakley & Jones, for appellees.
Judges Mencer, Craig and Palladino, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino.
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 217]
Appellants (husband and wife landowners) appeal an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County, confirming a tax sale and dismissing Appellants' exceptions to the sale of their land in Clearfield County by the Appellee-Clearfield County Tax Claim Bureau (Bureau) for the satisfaction of unpaid tax claims against their land. We reverse the order of the court of common pleas.
After two tax claims against Appellants' property had become absolute in accordance with Section 311 of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (Law), Act of July 7, 1947, P.L. 1368, as amended, 72 P.S. § 5860.311, the Bureau notified Appellants of the forthcoming sale of their property to satisfy unpaid taxes. On July 11, 1977, by United States registered*fn1 mail, return receipt
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 218]
requested, pursuant to Section 602 of the Law, 72 P.S. § 5860.602, the Bureau sent Appellants a tax sale notice advising Appellants that their land would be sold for the "approximate upset price" of $81.79.*fn2 The parties have stipulated that (1) the envelope containing this notice was returned to the Bureau with the word "UNCLAIMED"*fn3 stamped on it by the postal authorities and (2) the return-receipt card was not returned to the Bureau. Additionally, on July 14, 1977, by United States registered mail, return receipt requested, the Bureau sent Appellants a tax sale notice advising Appellants that their land would be sold for the "approximate upset price" of $81.32.*fn4 This notice was received by Appellants as acknowledged by delivery to the Bureau of the return-receipt card signed by Appellant-wife.*fn5
Responding to the latter tax sale notice, Appellants, on August 15, 1977, sent the Bureau a check in the amount of $81.32. The Bureau received Appellants'
[ 62 Pa. Commw. Page 219]
check on August 18, 1977, and recorded the check as satisfying the 1975 tax claim against Appellants' property. Then, on September 12, 1977, the Bureau sold Appellants' property to satisfy unpaid 1974 taxes.
Appellants contend that the Bureau failed to notify them of the forthcoming tax sale of their land according to the requisites of Section 602 of the Law.*fn6 "[T]he notice provisions of the Tax Sale Law are strictly construed to guard against deprivation of the property without due process of law." Povlow Appeal, 48 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 435, 438, 410 A.2d 376, 378 (1980); Stephens Appeal, 53 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 423, 419 A.2d 206 (1980); Grace Building Co. Appeal, 48 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 507, 412 A.2d 645 (1980). Under Section 602, proper notice ...