An Act To Repeal the Recently Enacted Changes to the Law Governing Tax Lien Foreclosure
Sec. 1. 36 MRSA §683, sub-§1, as amended by PL 2017, c. 478, §1, is further amended to read:
Sec. 2. 36 MRSA §942, 3rd ¶, as enacted by PL 2017, c. 478, §2, is repealed.
Sec. 3. 36 MRSA §943-C, as enacted by PL 2017, c. 478, §3, is repealed.
Sec. 4. 36 MRSA §1281, as amended by PL 2017, c. 478, §4, is further amended to read:
§ 1281. Payment of taxes; delinquent taxes; publication; certificate filed in registry
Taxes on real estate mentioned in section 1602, including supplementary taxes assessed under section 1331, are delinquent on the 15th day of January next following the date of assessment. Annually, on or before February 1st, the State Tax Assessor shall send by mail to the last known address of each owner of such real estate upon which taxes remain unpaid a notice in writing, containing a description of the real estate assessed and the amount of unpaid taxes and interest, and alleging that a lien is claimed on that real estate for payment of those taxes, interests and costs, with a demand that payment be made by the next February 21st. For property that constitutes a homestead for which a property tax exemption is claimed under chapter 105, subchapter 4-B, the State Tax Assessor shall include in the written notice written notice to the owner named on the tax lien mortgage that that owner may be eligible to file an application for tax abatement under section 841, subsection 2, indicating that the State Tax Assessor, upon request, will assist the owner in requesting an abatement and provide information regarding the procedures for making such a request. The notice must also indicate that the owner may seek assistance from the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection regarding options for finding an advisor who can help the owner work with the State Tax Assessor to avoid tax lien foreclosure and provide information regarding ways to contact the bureau. The Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, by July 15th annually, shall provide to a statewide organization representing municipalities and to the State Tax Assessor information regarding assistance in avoiding tax lien foreclosure to assist municipalities and the State Tax Assessor in providing the information required in the notice. If the owners of any such real estate are unknown, instead of sending the notices by mail, the assessor shall cause the information required in this section on that real estate to be advertised in the state paper and in a newspaper, if any, of general circulation in the county in which the real estate lies. Such a statement or advertisement is sufficient legal notice of delinquent taxes. If those taxes and interest to date of payment and costs are not paid by February 21st, the State Tax Assessor shall record by March 15th, in the registry of deeds of the county or registry district where the real estate lies, a certificate signed by the assessor, setting forth the name or names of the owners according to the last state valuation, or the valuation established in accordance with section 1331; the description of the real estate assessed as contained in the last state valuation, or the valuation established in accordance with section 1331; the amount of unpaid taxes and interest; the amount of costs; and a statement that demand for payment of those taxes has been made, and that those taxes, interest and costs remain unpaid. The costs charged by the register of deeds for the filing may not exceed the fees established by Title 33, section 751.
This bill repeals or removes the changes to the foreclosure law that were made by Public Law 2017, chapter 478. Under that law, a municipality is restricted in how it may sell a foreclosed property that was owned by a person who is at least 65 years of age, occupied the property as a homestead and meets specified income and asset requirements.
The law also places specific notice requirements regarding the foreclosure process on the State Tax Assessor and municipalities and provides for continuous eligibility under the Maine resident homestead property tax exemption for a person who loses ownership of a homestead to tax lien foreclosure and subsequently regains ownership of the homestead; these provisions are also removed by this bill.