Avoid Property Tax Foreclosure

If you have received notice in the mail, posted on your door, or delivered to you that says your home or your property is “subject to foreclosure,” “in foreclosure,” or will be “sold at auction” because of unpaid taxes, you may be able to stop or delay the foreclosure and sale of your home. #6235EN

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Should I read this?

Maybe. If you got a notice in the mail, posted on your door, or handed to you saying your home or property is “subject to foreclosure,” “in foreclosure,” or will be “sold at auction” due to unpaid taxes, you may be able to stop or delay (put off) the foreclosure and sale of your home.


Why did I get this notice?

The county you live in charges property taxes yearly. Every year, the county collects state and local taxes based on your home’s value.

The county starts a foreclosure if any property taxes are unpaid for 3 years. The county can sell your home to collect all unpaid property taxes.  If you have not paid property taxes for 3 years or longer, the county will start the process of “foreclosure.”  

*Example: It is 2020. You owe property taxes from 2017. You are current for 2018, 2019 and 2020. The county can start foreclosure to sell your home to pay the 2017 property taxes.

The County must give you 30 days’ notice of a court hearing on the foreclosure before it sells your home. The notice must say the hearing place, date, and time.
At the hearing, you can tell the judge why the county should not foreclose your home. The county will sell your home at auction unless you take steps to stop the foreclosure.

*For help, contact the Northwest Justice Project at nwjustice.org/get-legal-help or 1-888-201-1014.


What can I do to stop the property tax foreclosure?

  • Apply for a property tax exemption. This lowers your property taxes. You may qualify for this if you have a low or limited income and, at the time the property taxes were charged:

  •  You were at least 61 years old during the calendar year or

    • You were a widow or widower of someone getting an exemption and you were at least 57 years old the year your spouse died;

  • You were could not work due to a disability or

  • You were a Veteran with a disability from military service or you were the spouse of a Veteran who died or was disabled from military service

  • Apply for a property tax deferral. This lets you delay payment of some owed property taxes. You may qualify, depending on your income and how much equity you have in your home.

  • You probably have equity if you own your home outright or its value is more than what you owe on the mortgage.

  • If you get a property tax deferral, the county will let you pay some of your property taxes later.

  • Apply for a “Rescue Loan.” You may be able to get this type of loan if you take part in housing counseling.

  • A Rescue Loan is a no- to very low-interest, 30-year loan to help you keep your home.

  • You can use it to pay off owed property taxes and stop the foreclosure of your home.

  • Learn more at www.homesightwa.org/foreclosure-rescue-loans/.

  • File for bankruptcy. This may stop or delay the foreclosure. Filing for bankruptcy may let you pay all past due taxes over 3 to 5 years. Talk to a bankruptcy lawyer. This is not a good option for everyone.

*Learn more about bankruptcy. Visit Northwest Consumer Law Center’s website at www.nwclc.org.



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Last Review and Update: Nov 16, 2020
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