Judges reject property owner’s interpretation of tax sale statute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that the purchaser of property in a tax sale substantially complied with the statutory requirement that the owner of record is notified about the buyer’s intent to petition for a tax deed.

Properties 2006 acquired property located at 219 Kenwood Ave. in Hammond through a tax sale in April 2013. 219 Kenwood Holdings LLC was the owner of record of the property when it was put in the tax sale.

Properties 2006 sent Kenwood notice of its purchase and intent to petition for a tax deed, saying “A petition for a tax deed will be filed on or after August 24, 2013.” Properties 2006 later notified Kenwood it had petition for the tax deed.

In September 2013, Kenwood objected to the petition, arguing the first notice sent did not meet the requirements of I.C. 6-1.1-25-4.5(e). The part of the statute at issue says: “The notice that this section requires shall contain at least the following: (1) A statement that a petition for a tax deed will be filed on or after a specified date. (2) The date on or after which the petitioner intends to petition for a tax deed to be issued. …”

Kenwood argues the first notice does not comply with subdivision (2) because it does not contain a statement as to the date on or after which the petitioner intends for a tax deed to be issued. The appellate judges pointed out Kenwood’s interpretation, which seems to require a petitioner to predict the date the court would actually issue a tax deed, is only possible if the words “to petition” are omitted from the statute.

“It is the date of petitioning that the statute is concerned with, not the date of issuance. Properties 2006’s statement informed Kenwood of the date on which it planned to petition for a tax deed. The statement makes clear that Properties 2006 intended to file this petition on August 24, 2013. Therefore, Properties 2006 fully complied with subsection (e),” Judge John Baker wrote.

The judges also rejected Kenwood’s assertion that the requirements of subdivisions (1) and (2) cannot be satisfied by one statement alone but must be broken into two sentences.

The purpose of the statute was achieved in this case, 219 Kenwood Holdings, LLC v. Properties 2006, LLC, 45A03-1401-MI-49 , so there was no error by the trial court in finding Properties 2006 substantially complied with the statute.

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