August 22, 2023 — Report

While millions of homeowners fell behind on mortgage payments and were at risk of losing their homes to mortgage foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic, many others were facing another foreclosure crisis- the loss of their homes due to property tax lien foreclosures. This strict and often rapid tax lien foreclosure process has created a lesser known plight faced by homeowners who have fallen behind on their property taxes.

The impact of property tax liens are especially harsh for heirs who inherit property without a will or who have not yet gone through probate. The heirs of the deceased owner may now own the home, but if their names are not on the deed, they are not the record owners of the property. This creates what is known as heirs property, or a “tangled title” situation.

Heirs property owners are at heightened risk of losing the family home to property tax foreclosure and a range of other threats. This report examines this problem and recommends policy solutions to address it.