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Dear Friends and Neighbors,  

 

I joined my colleagues and voted in the affirmative on H4791 – An Act relative to municipal tax lien procedures and protections for property owners in the Commonwealth. This bill offers protections for property owners facing tax lien foreclosure, which is a process through which someone can lose ownership of their property for the nonpayment of real estate taxes.  

 

The US Supreme Court’s 2023 decision in Tyler v. Hennepin County determined that local governments seeking forfeiture of property as compensation for a public debt may not profit from it beyond the amount a person owes, and any excess proceeds must be returned to the taxpayer. Our bill not only ensures we comply with this decision but provides own safeguards and protects the rights of property owners.  

 

The Home Equity Theft bill notably:  

 

  • Requires that a detailed accounting be taken following a foreclosure in a tax taking of the excess equity that is available. 
  • Requires any excess equity must be returned to the former owner within 60 days 
  • Requires the purchaser of tax receivable to give notice to the taxpayer and municipality within 12 business days of purchase.  
  • Notices for residential properties must be sent by certified mail, posted on the property, and in a public place. 
  • Expands the requirement for notices sent to homeowners by requiring notices to include multiple languages, plain language requirements, and content requirements.  
  • Increases the term limit of payment plans from 5 years to 10 years for redeeming properties with a tax title.  
  • Decreases the minimal initial payment from 25% to 10% for redeeming properties with a tax title.  
  • Clarifies language in the Massachusetts General Laws that owners or heirs have the right to receive any excess equity (any money amount surplus above taxes, interest, and fees in the tax title balance from the date of foreclosure and determines further outcomes whether the property is sold or retained). 

 

This bill ensures that that taxpayers receive proper notice, protects property owners’ rights, and eases municipal payment agreements for redeeming property. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.   

 

Yours in service,  

Denise 

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