~ Community Legal Services
Over the past few years, the City of Philadelphia has grown increasingly aggressive in collecting delinquent property taxes. It is now common for the City to file a foreclosure against a property due to unpaid property taxes. Housing counselors and legal services attorneys are available to help low-income homeowners access tax relief programs and payment agreements for which they are eligible and avoid the risk of foreclosure.
Each year, property owners must pay their annual tax bill or apply for a payment agreement by no later than March 31st of the current tax year. If a property owner fails to pay the amount owed in full or apply for a payment agreement by March 31st, the principal tax debt is considered “past due” and begins to accrue interest and penalties. Property taxes are considered “delinquent” on January 1st of the year after the taxes are due. Once taxes are considered delinquent, the City or one of its collection firms (Linebarger or GRB) will send letters to property owners informing them of the delinquency and threatening legal action.
Ultimately, the City may file a foreclosure in Common Pleas Court seeking to collect the debt. If a property owner learns that a tax foreclosure has been filed against their property, they should seek legal assistance immediately. Property owners should attend all hearings that are scheduled in the foreclosure case. Failure to appear at a scheduled hearing may result in the City listing the property for Sheriff’s Sale.
Programs and affordable payment agreements exist to help homeowners with delinquent property taxes save their homes. Homeowners may apply for these programs both before and after a foreclosure is filed. Housing counseling agencies and legal services organizations are available to help homeowners access these important programs and to provide advice and representation regarding their legal rights.
If you live in Philadelphia and there are delinquent property taxes on your home, you should call the Save Your Home Philly hotline at 215-334-4663. You may also go to Community Legal Services for intake at 1410 W. Erie Avenue between 9 am and 12 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.