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In re Tax Sale Pursuant to The Real Estate Tax Sale Law of 1947

September 20, 2010

IN RE: TAX SALE PURSUANT TO THE REAL ESTATE TAX SALE LAW OF 1947, AS AMENDED
APPEAL OF: CATHY HOLLER



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Senior Judge Flaherty

Argued: April 19, 2010

BEFORE: HONORABLE BERNARD L. McGINLEY, Judge, HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge, HONORABLE JIM FLAHERTY, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Cathy Holler (Appellant) appeals from the December 4, 2008 order of the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County (trial court) which denied Appellant's petition entitled "Emergency Verified Motion to Enforce this Court's Order of November 30, 2007 to Vacate an Improperly Scheduled Judicial Sale for December 8, 2008." Also before our court is the Beaver County Tax Claim Bureau's (Tax Bureau) motion to quash the appeal as moot or as an interlocutory order. We deny the Tax Bureau's motion to quash, affirm the trial court in part and reverse and remand to the trial court in part.

The subject property, located at 576 Merchant Street in Ambridge (Property), has been owned by Susan Markvan (Markvan) since 1972. Appellant is Markvan's daughter.

In October of 2002, the Tax Bureau entered into an installment agreement with Appellant. Thereafter, Appellant failed to make such payments in accordance with the agreement and on January 9, 2003, Appellant filed for bankruptcy. Because of Appellant's failure to make payments, the installment agreement was declared null and void and the Property was listed for upset sale in September of 2003, however, it was not sold.

Thereafter, the Tax Bureau listed the Property for judicial sale. In July of 2004, Appellant petitioned for a stay of the judicial sale. The trial court advised Appellant that the delinquent taxes on the Property totaled $4,612.00, including interest and costs. Appellant agreed not only to the $4,612.00 total, but also agreed to pay, thereafter, the sum of $545.00 per quarter. The trial court removed the Property from the list, ordering in pertinent part as follows:

1. The Judicial Sale of Tax Parcel No. 10-002-0901-000-01-1 scheduled for July 19, 2004, is continued to November 1, 2004, no further notice of sale is required.

2. Catherine S. Holler [Appellant] shall comply with the financial arrangement agreed upon in 2002 with the.Tax.Bureau to pay the sum of $545.00 per quarter on the delinquent taxes on the subject property of $4,612.00. The payment of $545.00 shall be made on or before November 1, 2004.

3. [Appellant] has been granted this continuance to proceed with the Complaint filed at No. 11250 of 2004 against.Markvan, concerning title to subject property.

Trial court order, July 15, 2004.

On December 5, 2005, the Property was sold at a judicial sale for nonpayment of real estate taxes. Appellant contested the sale and on June 20, 2006, the parties consented to return the Property to the status quo prior to the sale. Thus, the Property was returned to Markvan.

On February 12, 2007, Appellant's bankruptcy was discharged. On May 12, 2007, Markvan passed away. However, no estate was opened for Markvan and a deed was not conveyed to Appellant for the Property.

On July 16, 2007, the Tax Bureau petitioned for judicial sale of the Property for nonpayment of real estate taxes. The trial court granted the Tax Bureau's petition for lack of response, issued a rule to show cause and scheduled a hearing for September 17, 2007. On October 10, 2007, the judicial sale of the Property was scheduled for December 3, 2007.

Thereafter, Appellant allegedly received informal notice of the judicial sale from a neighbor and immediately, on November 28, 2007, filed an emergency petition to vacate the December 3, 2007 judicial sale for lack of notice and other irregularities. Appellant's petition requested that the December 3, 2007 judicial sale date be vacated and requested that the Tax Bureau be required to provide "a complete accounting of all taxes and other charges allegedly due and owing." Appellant's petition, Request for Relief No. 2, at 8.

On November 30, 2007, the trial court held oral argument. The trial court judge and Appellant stated at the hearing on November 30, 2007, in pertinent part, as follows:

THE COURT: I'm going to take it off the Judicial Sale, and I'm going to set it specially for Judicial Sale, and here is what's going to happen: They're going to give you an accounting of the taxes owed on 576 Merchant Street. You're going to have to open up an Estate for your mother because you don't have standing to stop this Judicial Sale if the notices went out.

***

I want you to know as of November 30th at 9:26 a.m. that the taxes due are $10,305.71.

***

THE PETITIONER: When am I going to get the pay history so that I can compare the pay records that I have compared to the running totals that the Tax Claim Bureau has? They put numbers, they put numbers out everywhere, but they can't back them up, and I would like a pay history so that I have the right.

THE COURT: Mr. Kohlman, when can you give her an accounting, so to speak?

***

THE COURT: All right. Before she leaves the Courthouse, give her the accounting of the payments on 576 Merchant Street.

MR. KOHLMAN: Yes, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Have her sign that she has received them on a copy.

MR. KOHLMAN: Yes, sir.

***

THE COURT: That's right, and what it will total, if I understand Mr. Kohlman correctly, will be $10,305.71 with interest continuing to run. So, there's your number.

THE PETITIONER: Okay, but that doesn't mean that everything in there is true and correct.

***

THE PETITIONER: Now, what if I have made payments to that and they have been applied ...


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