Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, in the case of Tax Sale by Northampton County Tax Claim Unit of Property Located on Route 512 and LR 48034 in Washington Township, No. 1986-CM-6684.
Dwight L. Danser, for appellant.
John J. Bartos, for appellee, Northampton County Tax Claim Unit.
Renald S. Baratta, for appellee, Karel Dvorak.
Judges Craig, McGinley and Smith, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig. Judge McGinley dissents.
[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 410]
Where a tax claim bureau, with respect to the public sale of property for delinquent taxes has duly followed the statutory procedures and issued all notices as required by the Real Estate Tax Sale Law,*fn1 and before the sale, the property owner (1) evidences an intention to have the sale stayed by making a substantial payment of back taxes, but (2) nevertheless permits the sale to proceed by failure to make further timely payment or to enter into an installment payment agreement because he suffers from an obvious comprehension disability stemming from his inability to understand English well, should the courts upset the sale because the tax claim bureau personnel did not take steps to ensure that the owner was not confused and uncertain as to his rights?
Lawrence Marra, the purchaser at tax sale of the property in question, has appealed a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County which set aside the tax sale of Washington Township property
[ 116 Pa. Commw. Page 411]
subject to unpaid taxes while in the ownership of Karel Dvorak.
The trial judge's determinative findings of fact were as follows:*fn2
In the instant case, the taxpayer is an uneducated immigrant who does not understand or speak English well. The circumstances leading to the sale indicate that Mr. Dvorak intended to pay his taxes and that he thought his four hundred dollar ($400.00) payment in August would stay the sale. The record clearly indicates that Mr. Dvorak was ignorant and uncertain as to his rights and the proper method for staying the upcoming sale.
Although the Tax Claim Bureau told Mr. Dvorak that he could either pay all of his 1984 taxes in August or go on an installment plan to pay both his 1984 and 1985 taxes, the record clearly indicates that Mr. Dvorak failed to understand the meaning of those two options. Moreover, the record is devoid of any statements explaining to ...