Appealed From No. 96-C-1854. Common Pleas Court of the County of Lehigh. Judge PLATT.
Before: Honorable James Gardner Colins, President Judge, Honorable Doris A. Smith, Judge, Honorable Charles A. Lord, Senior Judge. Opinion BY President Judge Colins.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colins
OPINION BY PRESIDENT JUDGE COLINS
Summit Bank (Summit Bank or Bank) appeals the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County (Common Pleas) denying its petition to set aside tax sale number 49-28 on the ground that the Bank did not receive adequate notice of the sale.
As of March 1992, the Bank held the mortgage on real estate located at 547 North Silk Street, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and owned by Annabelle Rodriguez. In May 1995 when Rodriguez defaulted on her loan payments, the Bank began a mortgage foreclosure action in Common Pleas. Judgment and a writ of execution were entered in June 1996, and a sheriff's sale of the property was scheduled for October 25, 1996.
Meanwhile, in August 1996 the Tax Claim Bureau of Lehigh County filed a petition (Petition) to sell the property at a judicial sale, after the property failed to attract the minimum bid at an earlier upset sale. The Tax Claim Bureau attached to its Petition an abstract of title for each of the subject properties, showing the state of the record, ownership, and all liens, mortgages, and other claims against the properties. Common Pleas issued its Rule to Show Cause, which stated:
NOW, this 1st day of August, 1996, upon consideration of the within Petition, a Rule is granted and directed against each party in interest in any of the properties to be sold as listed in Exhibit "A" of the within Petition, said parties in interest appearing in the Abstract of Title and Tax Lien Certificates attached to said Petition as Exhibit "B", to appeal and show cause why a Decree should not be made that the said property [sic] be sold, freed and cleared of their respective claims, liens, mortgages and ground rents. Service of said Rule is to be made and governed by § 611 of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law, ... 72 P.S. § 5860.611.
Returnable the 16th day of September, 1996, 9:30 a.m. before the Motion Court Judge ....
The Tax Claim Bureau served the Bank with the rule to show cause, attaching the Petition and its Exhibit A, but failing to attach Exhibit B of the Petition. When no objections were filed, Common Pleas ordered the judicial sale, at which the property sold free and clear of all claims. The Bank filed a petition to set aside the sale, or in the alternative, to make the sale subject to the Bank's lien. Common Pleas dismissed the Bank's petition, and this appeal followed.
On appeal, Summit Bank claims that the Tax Claim Bureau did not comply with the notice requirements of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (Law) *fn1 because it served the rule to show cause without attaching a copy of the abstract of title for each property exposed to sale (Exhibit B to the Petition) and because the property owner's name was misspelled on the list of properties subject to sale (Exhibit A to the Petition, which was served with the rule to show cause). Second, the Bank contends that it did not receive adequate notice of the sale in that neither the rule to show cause nor the attached Petition and list of property owners was sufficient to identify the lienholders with respect to each property. The Bank requests that the tax sale be set aside, or in the alternative, that the sale be made subject to the Bank's mortgage.
Section 610 of the Law, 72 P.S. § 5860.610, provides that when a property fails to sell at the upset price, the tax claim bureau shall immediately file its petition for judicial sale.
Upon the presentation of such petition, accompanied with searches, showing the state of the record and the ownership of the property and all tax and municipal claims, liens, mortgages, ground rents, charges and estates against the [property], the court shall grant a rule upon all parties thus shown to be interested to appear and show cause why a decree should not be made that said property be sold, freed and cleared of their respective ... claims, liens, mortgages, charges....
72 P.S. § 5860.610. The rule must be personally served by the sheriff. Section 611 of the ...