Cuomo postpones tax lien sale yet again

Fourth delay pushes date back another month

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo just extended the ban on the city’s tax lien sale for another month, granting delinquent property owners a fourth reprieve since the start of the pandemic.

The governor signed an executive order Monday delaying lien sales statewide through Nov. 3. Without the order, the city’s lien sale on overdue property taxes, water and sewer bills could have resumed this week.

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This marks the fourth time the city’s lien sale has been delayed this year. It was originally scheduled for May, but Mayor Bill de Blasio postponed it until August and then again to September.

Cuomo then barred all municipalities from selling liens until Oct. 4. At the time, the governor’s order superseded a nearly simultaneous announcement by the mayor that the sale would be postponed until Sept. 25.

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Representatives for de Blasio did not return requests seeking comment on the latest suspension.

Property owners and elected officials have repeatedly called on the city to delay the sale, which is administered by the Department of Finance. Last week, Assembly members Harvey Epstein and Robert Carroll penned a letter calling on the mayor to end the sale permanently, saying the city should instead convert foreclosed properties into affordable housing for low-income residents.

More than 9,000 properties were eligible for the city’s lien sale as of Aug. 17.

But the city sees the sale as a source of cash at a time when it is in desperate need, with Covid having wiped out approximately $9 billion in expected tax revenue. The lien sale would raise a tiny fraction of that amount, but has been unpopular with local politicians because past sales have threatened unwitting owners with the loss of their property.