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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: February 25, 2021 12:12 PM
From: Senator Wayne D. Fontana
To: All Senate members
Subject: Changes to the Municipal Claims and Tax Lien Law for Cities of the Second Class
Act 153 of 2012 provided Pennsylvania with a powerful tool for addressing blight and facilitating smart, community-based land recycling strategies.  Because of this law, many land banks were created including the Pittsburgh Land Bank in 2014.  While many land banks are thriving, my local land bank is struggling to succeed due to the difficulty in property acquisition.   


Currently, Pittsburgh utilizes the Second Class City Treasurer's Sale and Collection Act (“Treasurer’s Sale” or “T-Sale”), authorized by Real Estate Tax Sale Law (RETSL), for land recycling purposes. This does not result in a clean title until a separate quiet title action. For this reason I plan on introducing legislation that would amend the Municipal Claims and Tax Lien Law (MCTLL) that would grant Cities of the Second Class the ability to acquire property at sheriff’s sale by bidding an amount equal to the total amount of all municipal claims and liens regardless of bids by other parties.  This is currently the process the Philadelphia’s Lank Bank uses and it is believed that this would provide Pittsburgh land bank-type agencies a more efficient and inexpensive means of foreclosing municipal claims and tax liens in the city.   


Additionally my bill would automatically create a judgment when a lien or claim is filed; Provide that the tax foreclosure (sheriff’s sale) may be a free and clear sale; Provide for the City to object to a sale if the purchaser is debarred; Maintain the 3-month redemption period available to the City of Pittsburgh under the current Treasurer’s sale process; and Preserve the rights of a City of the Second Class may act as an agent for taxing bodies having claims against the property. 


There are over 30,000 parcels that are vacant or distressed in the city of Pittsburgh resulting in over $4.8 million in loss tax revenue.  My legislation would give our local land bank and URA one more tool to assist in their land recycling efforts thus benefiting the area communities and potentially providing for additional tax revenue.   


Thank you for considering co sponsoring this legislation.    


Introduced as SB811