The Real Deal New York

City Council weighs extension of tax lien sales

Properties on lien sale list paid $300M to city last year
January 12, 2017 10:30AM

NYC Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha

The City Council is weighing a bill that would extend its lucrative tax lien sale program for another four years.

The program — an annual sale of homeowners’ unpaid tax bills — brings in big bucks for the city. Last year, the city collected $300 million from properties on the list between the time homeowners received a 90-day notice of the sale and the actual sale date, Politico reported.

The city conducts a lien sale each year after sending notices 90, 60, 30 and 10 days before the sale to third-party tax lien trusts, which may foreclose on the property one year later.

More than 24,200 properties received a 90-day notice last year, including a day care center that owed the city $14 million and a deceased Qatari prince who owed $345,000 on his $12 million apartment. Ultimately, 3,461 properties had their liens sold. Between 2008 and 2016, 354 of the 41,400 liens that were sold were foreclosed on.

But some said the bill needs to better protect low-income New Yorkers. The Center for New York City Neighborhoods, for example, said tax lien sales disproportionately impact homeowners of color, and called for more flexible payment options and a cap on homeowners’ legal fees.

“The tax-lien sale is an imperfect, but effective tool used only as a last resort to enforce and collect delinquent municipal charges,” testified NYC Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha. [Politico]E.B. Solomont