Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County in the case of In Re: Tax Claim Bureau of Lehigh County, 1981 Upset Tax Sale, No. 81-C-3585.
David A. Scholl, for appellant.
John M. Ashcraft, Assistant County Solicitor, for appellee, Lehigh County.
William E. Doyle, Donatelli, Doyle & Anewalt, for appellee/intervenors, Lawrence Marra and Francesca Marra.
Judges Rogers and Doyle, and Senior Judge Kalish, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Senior Judge Kalish.
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 453]
Dian K. Hass (owner) and Larry Hass, her husband, owned as tenants by the entireties real estate in Weisenberg Township, Lehigh County. They were delinquent in the payment of 1980 real estate taxes, and the real estate was sold at a tax sale. Owner and her husband are separated and Larry Hass did not join in the objections to the sale. The court of common pleas dismissed owner's objections and held that the tax sale be absolutely confirmed. We affirm.
The trial judge found that on June 22, 1981, the Tax Claim Bureau (Bureau) mailed, by certified mail, notice of the tax sale to owner, but the notice was returned "unclaimed." On August 8, 1981, at 7:05 p.m., August 9, 1981 at 1:20 p.m., and August 11, 1981 at 8:45 a.m.,
[ 96 Pa. Commw. Page 454]
the sheriff attempted personal service on owner but failed to accomplish it. The sheriff then posted the original notice of sale on the tract and made a return thereof. On October 2, 1981, the Bureau petitioned the court to be excused from personal service, which the court approved and ordered the Bureau to proceed with the 1981 Upset Tax Sale. The property was sold on October 13, 1981 to one Lawrence Marra, intervenor.
The Real Estate Tax Sale Law (Law), Act of July 7, 1947, P.L. 1368, as amended, 72 P.S. §§ 5860.101-5860.803, includes notice provisions relating to tax sales of real property. At least thirty days before the sale, the Bureau must give notice by publication. Section 602(a) of the Law, 72 P.S. § 5860.602(a). Each owner must be notified of the sale by certified mail at least thirty days before the sale. Section 602(e)(1) of the Law, 72 P.S. § 5860.602(e)(1). The property must be posted at least ten days prior to the sale. Section 602(e)(3) of the Law, 72 P.S. § 5860.602(e)(3). In addition, the owner occupant must be personally notified of the sale at least ten days before the sale; however, this requirement may be waived by the court of common pleas upon petition by the Bureau if service cannot be made within twenty-five days. Section 601(a) of the Law, 72 P.S. § 5860.601(a).
The parties stipulated that the publication notice of the sale was done in accordance with the Law. Owner raises the issue that the personal notice and its service, not being strictly in accordance with the Law, did not satisfy procedural due process, and therefore, the court was without jurisdiction to render a decree.
Specifically, owner contends that the sale should be set aside because the Bureau failed to attempt personal service within the twenty-five day period contemplated by the Law, thus depriving her of notice until the day of the sale. Owner focuses on the Law's ...