All cities in Wayne County have two types of real property taxes that are due on an annual basis including (1) summer taxes billed on July 1; and (2) winter taxes billed on December 1. These taxes are billed by the municipal government and are paid by mail or in person at the City Treasurer’s office by not later than March 1. Should the taxpayer fail to pay those taxes by March 1, Public Act 123’s timeline classifies said taxes as delinquent and are forwarded to the County Treasurer for collection. As such, there is NO QUESTION that a taxpayer must go to the Wayne County Treasurer to pay these DELINQUENT taxes. The municipal government tax clerk is in no position and is not obligated to collect delinquent taxes that have already been transferred to the County. Any taxes paid at the city will be applied to taxes that were due and owing to the City Treasurer only.
Should a taxpayer not pay the delinquent taxes by March 1 (two years after the due tax year date), the property is forfeited to County Treasurer and the County Treasurer begins foreclosure proceedings. As such, under the General Property Tax Act (MCL 211.1. et seq), a “foreclosing governmental unit shall file a single petition with the clerk of the circuit court of that county listing all property forfeited and not redeemed to the county treasurer under [MCL 211.78g] to be foreclosed under [MCL 211.78k] . . .. ” Before the hearing on the petition, the foreclosing governmental unit must provide proof of service of the notices required under the statute, as well as proof of the personal visit to the property and publication.
Pursuant to MCL 211.78(i)(2), each person, or entity, located in a title search of the subject property and who is an “owner of a property interest” in the real property that is forfeited for the failure to pay delinquent real property taxes is mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, a Notice of the Show Cause Hearing and the Judicial Foreclosure Hearing (hereafter Notice). This Notice is intended to provide an opportunity to either pay taxes and fees assessed on the property or appear at a Show Cause Hearing challenging the Petition to Foreclose.
In determining how to locate an “owner of a property interest”, the GPTA (MCL 211.78(i)(6)) provides that the County Treasurer must use the following sources in determining who are the “owners of property interest” as of the effective date of filing the Certificate of Forfeiture:
“The owner of a property interest is entitled to notice under this section of the show cause hearing under section 78j and the foreclosure hearing under section 78k if that owner’s interest was identifiable by reference to any of the following sources before the date that the county treasurer records the certificate required under section 78g(2):
(a) Land title records in the office of the county register of deeds.
(b) Tax records in the office of the county treasurer.
(c) Tax records in the office of the local assessor.
(d) Tax records in the office of the local treasurer.”
In addition to the certified mail Notice provided, the Treasurer must cause an authorized representative to make a personal visit to the Property and served on occupant of the property Notice of the pendency of the Show Cause Hearing and the Judicial Foreclosure Hearing as required by MCL 211.78i(3). A photo was then taken to provide further evidence of that the personal visit to the subject property had, indeed, been made. This visit was completed by a Court authorized officer who determined that the property was vacant as of date of the visit.
Nevertheless, a hearing on the County Treasurer’s Petition to Foreclose and objections thereto is usually held in February of the subsequent year at which time all parties interested in the forfeited properties were heard. Chief Judge of Wayne County Circuit Court would hear all of the objection and rule on them.
Upon completion of the foreclosure process and effective approximately April 1 of the year of the hearing, GPTA, specifically MCL 211.78k(5)(b) provides that the final Judgment of Foreclosure shall designate “that fee simple title to property foreclosed by the judgment will vest absolutely in the foreclosing governmental unit.” Moreover, MCL 211.78k(5)(c) further confirms “that all liens against the property, including any lien for unpaid taxes or special assessments, except future installments of special assessments and liens recorded by this state or the foreclosing governmental unit pursuant to the natural resources and environmental protection act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.101 to 324.90106, are extinguished, if all forfeited delinquent taxes, interest, penalties, and fees are not paid on or before the March 31 immediately succeeding the entry of a judgment foreclosing the property under this section, or in a contested case within 21 days of the entry of a judgment foreclosing the property under this section.