New York City’s tax lien sale, previously postponed in response to the public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, has been rescheduled for December 17th, 2021.

Each year, the City of New York holds the sale, resulting in thousands of property owners seeing their debt from property taxes as well as sewer and water charges sold to private investors. Private investors can then add charges and higher interest rates to the purchased debt, sending many property owners into foreclosure.

The Department of Finance publishes the list of properties that qualify for the lien sale 90, 60, 30, and 10 days before the sale. New this year is the option to file a COVID-19 hardship declaration. If your property is on the lien sale list and you have experienced financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., job loss, increase in expenses), you may be eligible to get off the list.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will not be participating in the 2021 lien sale, meaning that water and sewer debt owed to the DEP will not be sold this year.

Last week, Attorney General Letitia James called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to delay the lien sale, stating that “New York City should be more attuned to the precarious state of New Yorkers’ budgets as the pandemic continues to bear down on its residents. Putting homeowners in a position where their homes are like to be foreclosed upon in the midst of the pandemic is wrong and short-sighted given that federal funding will be released in the coming weeks or months to prevent foreclosures.”

The Center for NYC Neighborhoods, along with the Coalition for Affordable Homes, has called for the tax lien sale to be canceled as families face financial hardship from loss of income or jobs due to the novel coronavirus crisis.

“As New Yorkers adhere to the stay-at-home order from our government leaders, we cannot undermine the importance of home stability by proceeding with the tax lien sale, which will exacerbate the economic fallout from the crisis and disproportionately impact vulnerable seniors and communities of color,” the Coalition said in a statement.

The law that permits the tax lien sale would have to be changed to cancel it, and instead officials chose to postpone it.

If you think you may be on the tax lien sale list, we recommend that you file a hardship declaration or review and pay your outstanding property tax and sewer/water debts if possible. If you need assistance with paying for your debts, filing for a tax lien sale exemption, or determining eligibility for tax relief programs, please contact the Center’s Homeowner Hub at (646) 786-0888. Read more about the annual tax lien sale and how it might affect you on HomeownerHelpNY, a website backed by the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the Center.

All in-person tax lien sale services have been suspended until further notice because of the outbreak. All agencies dealing with tax lien debt are still available by phone, email, and snail mail.

  • NYC Department of Finance’s (DOF) tax lien Ombudsman
  • NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) (all HPD debts are paid through DOF)
  • NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), water and sewer payments only

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