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Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau v. Queenan

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

January 12, 2015

Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau
v.
Barbara Queenan, Appellant

Argued, October 7, 2014

Appealed from No. 2010-26389. Common Pleas Court of the County of Montgomery. Corso, Senior Judge.

Diane S. Tosta, Norristown, for appellant.

Alexander M. Glassman, Trevose, for appellee Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau.

BEFORE: HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge, HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge, HONORABLE ANNE E. COVEY, Judge.

OPINION

Page 948

 McCULLOUGH,  JUDGE

Barbara Queenan appeals from the January 7, 2014 order of the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County (trial court) denying her petition to set aside a tax sale. Queenan contends that the Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau (Bureau) failed to prove compliance with the notice requirements of sections 601(a)(3) and 602(e)(3) of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law (Law), Act of July 7, 1947, P.L. 1368, as amended, 72 P.S. § § 5860.601(a)(3) and 5860.602(e)(3), because the Bureau's only evidence of notice consisted of affidavits filed by the sheriff that did not include a copy of the notice of the tax sale. The trial court found that Queenan had actual notice of the tax sale which excused the alleged non-compliance. We reverse.

Queenan was the record owner of property at 11 East Basin Street, Norristown Borough, where she has lived for approximately forty-five years. On September 15, 2010, the Bureau sold the property at a tax upset sale for non-payment of 2008-2009 taxes totaling $1,462.20. QAC, Inc., purchased the property for $8,000.00, and the property was conveyed to QAC, Inc., by deed dated February 4, 2011. Queenan filed a petition to set aside the tax sale on May 29, 2012.

The trial court held a hearing on October 15, 2013. Queenan testified that after she fell behind on tax payments, she entered into a payment plan with XSPAND[1] and made monthly payments, in cash, at TD Bank. She said that at some point she received two checks from XSPAND with a note telling her not to make any more payments.

The Bureau entered into evidence an Affidavit for Posting of Notice of Public Tax Sale, (R-1), indicating that notice of the tax sale was posted on the property on July 22, 2010, and an Affidavit for Personal Service of Notice of Public Tax Sale, (R-2), indicating that notice of the tax sale was served on Queenan on August 16, 2010. The affidavits were not filed with the Montgomery County Prothonotary until June 28, 2012. (Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 105a-06a.)

Queenan described the property as a row house, with no sides and with windows on both sides of the front door. Queenan testified that she did not see any notice posted on her house, door, or mailbox and that she was not personally served with notice of the tax sale. Queenan stated that she first learned of the tax sale after receiving notice of an ejectment action, which was filed in May 2011. (R.R. at 17a.)

After the record was closed, at the Bureau's request and over Queenan's objection, the record was reopened to allow the Bureau to present additional evidence concerning the payment plan and payments made. (R.R. at 45a-46a.) William F. Caldwell is the Second Deputy Treasurer for the county and testified that he became employed by the county in August 2012. Caldwell stated that ...


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