Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Warren County in case of In Re: Exceptions to sale of property of William A. Molchan and Helen H. Molchan, his wife, No. 539 of 1984.
William R. Harper, for appellants.
Robert L. Knupp, Graf, Knupp & Andrews, P.C., for appellee.
Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge MacPhail.
[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 424]
William A. Molchan and Helen H. Molchan (Appellants) appeal an order of the Court of Common Pleas of the 37th Judicial District, Warren County Branch, which denied Appellants' objections to a tax sale of September 10, 1984. We will reverse the Common Pleas Court.
The necessary findings of fact were made by the Common Pleas Court following an evidentiary hearing. The Appellants bought the subject premises on September 6, 1973. The deed was never recorded. On September 10, 1984, the premises were sold for delinquent 1982 taxes by the Warren County Tax Claim Bureau (Bureau). Appellants filed objections to the sale which alleged that numerous procedural defects had been committed by the Bureau which violated various provisions of Sections 602 and 607 of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (Law).*fn1
Our scope of review in cases dealing with tax sales is limited to determining whether the Common Pleas Court abused its discretion, rendered a decision with lack of supporting evidence or clearly erred as a matter
[ 94 Pa. Commw. Page 425]
of law. Dauphin County Tax Claim Bureau Appeal, 78 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 49, 466 A.2d 1112 (1983). We find that the Common Pleas Court's decision denying Appellants' objections must be reversed on two grounds, one which was dealt with by the Common Pleas Court in its opinion and one which was not.
The Common Pleas Court held that Mrs. Molchan was not an "assessed owner" and therefore was not entitled to the notice required by Section 602(e)(2) of the Law. The Common Pleas Court erred in reaching this conclusion.
The Common Pleas Court found, and it is supported by the evidence, that even though the Appellants' deed was never recorded, the tax assessor's office somehow gained knowledge that the owner was William A. Molchan, although it did not find out immediately that Helen H. Molchan was a co-owner. The assessor's office apparently received this information from the Penelec Company, which provided utilities to the premises.
There was undisputed evidence presented that Mrs. Molchan did not receive tax notices during the early years of the Molchans' ownership. She testified, however, that she called the tax office and told them that they had been sending the tax notices to her husband only and that she should be "on the property" as well.*fn2 She testified that since then she received notices from the tax office. The Appellants presented two ...