By Brian F. Jenabzadeh, Esq.

Buying a Tax Deed in Georgia | Real Estate Attorney - Georgia | 770-609-1247In Georgia, a tax deed purchaser has a defeasible fee-simple interest in the property and it does not give the tax deed purchaser the exclusive rights to possess the property. Tax Deeds in Georgia are governed by title 48 of the Georgia Code. Once the tax deed is sold on the court-house steps, the interest “ripens” into a fee-simple interest subject to redemption by the property interest holders. If the owner or a creditor wishes to redeem the property during the first year, they must tender the original amount of the purchase price of the tax deed along with a 20% premium. For very year afterwards, the delinquent taxpayer must pay an extra 10%. However, when the property is not redeemed, the purchaser can initiate foreclosure proceedings. This process, known as the barment procedure, involves a complicated and detail-oriented process of sending notices to the right parties. Once the notices are sent, the tax deed purchaser initiates a Quiet Title action to receive a clear title. Most title companies and closing attorneys require the properties sold at a tax sale to undergo a Quiet Title action before issuing marketable title to the new buyer. If you are looking to clear the title on your tax deed, our attorneys can initiate the foreclosure process and begin the Quiet Title action.

Below are several frequently asked questions by purchasers and property owners.

Ok, so I bought the tax deed, can I start renovating the property?

No. As stated above, because the tax deed is a defeasible fee-simple interest, the tax deed purchaser will not have a vested fee-simple interest until the statutory notices have been sent out. This process involves legal notices being sent out and should be done by a professional or a lawyer who has experience. No investor should be investing a money into a house without first seeking the advice of an attorney. If you or someone you know is in this situation, feel free to call the firm for a free consult.

Do I still owe the HOA dues for a condominium.

Yes, a tax deed may be sold, but it is highly recommended to have an attorney close the transaction.

I am the original owner of the property and my property was sold at a tax sale, what do I do?

If a property that you own or have an interest in has been sold, you should get in contact with an attorney right away as your interest in the property is at stake. If the property has been sold, it’s important to seek out the purchaser’s contact information right away. Don’t wait before it’s too late to redeem your property!

Do I owe the homeowner association (“HOA”) dues on a property that I recently purchased in the Tax sale?

The short answer is yes if the property is governed by an HOA. However, be sure to consult with an attorney at the Coleman Legal Group to decide which years are owed. In fact, Georgia’s Court of Appeals has ruled specifically on this issue. In Croft v. Fairfield Plantation Prop. Owners Assoc., Inc., the tax deed holder made the argument that by virtue of purchasing the property through a tax sale, he was not a member of the association and therefore was not required to pay any dues. However, the Court of Appeals disagreed with Croft and ruled that it would be inequitable for Croft to reap the benefits of an HOA without paying the dues. If you have purchased a property in a community, be sure to get the governing documents as your rights may be affected. These documents put owners on notice that their properties are in fact governed by the rules and regulations set out in it.

If the taxes are due on the property after the tax sale, can the Tax commissioner make a claim on the excess funds?

No, in Iglesia Del Dios Vivo Columna Y Apoyo De La Verdad La Luz Del Mundo, Inc. v. Downing, 321 Ga.App. 778, (Ga. App. 2013), Georgia’s Court of Appeals ruled that O.C.G.A. § 48–5–9 does not authorize charging Appellant, as defendant in fi. fa., with the taxes that accrued on the Property after the tax sale during the redemption period…” Id. at 747. Accordingly, if your property has been sold at a tax sale, make sure your excess funds are properly calculated.

If you need help with a tax deed, consult with one of our attorneys at the law firm. We can guide you through the legal challenges that may arise.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Updated:  2020-01-03