Friday, February 01, 2008

real property - judicial sale - petition to set aside - due process rights of owner

Fulton v. Bedford County Tax Claim Bureau - Commonwealth Court - January 31, 2008

A person who holds legal title to property which he purchased at a judicial sale is an indispensable party to and has a due process right to get notice of and take part in the prior owner's subsequent petition to set aside the judicial sale because of alleged lack of notice. The lower court erred in denying the purchaser's petition to intervene in the proceedings on the prior owner's petition.

The purchaser was more than just a successful bidder at a tax upset sale, but rather held title to the property as owner, after title passed first to the taxing bureau as trustee, which then conveyed its title to purchaser, who became the legal title holder. "As legal owner, Purchaser is entitled to due process before title to the Property may be transferred to another....To that end, appellate courts consistently hold property owners are indispensable parties to lawsuits affecting their property rights."