Each year, the Department of Finance sells the liens of properties that have unpaid debts — including property taxes, water bills, and other charges — that can result in an increased financial burden for families already behind on their bills. Once a tax lien is sold, a third-party collection agency can add fees and high interest of up to 18 percent, compounded daily. This mounting debt can force some homeowners into foreclosure.

Properties Eligible for the 2020 Lien Sale

The New York City Department of Finance notifies homeowners that their unpaid tax and water debts will be sold with a 90-day warning. Below is a map of properties that were eligible for the 2020 lien sale.

The governor has signed the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2020. The lien sale is currently not scheduled to move forward, but that may change. Payments that were owed to the City are still owed.

Regardless of the sale date, if you are a homeowner and owe property tax or water/sewer payments, or have had emergency repairs made by the City, you may be at risk of having your lien sold. The best option is to remove your home from the list as quickly as possible with an exemption or payment plan.

For a full guide to lien sale help for homeowners, including how to get off the list, please visit HomeownerHelpNY.com.

In years past, homeowners were able to get off of the list by paying their debt, entering into a payment plan, or applying for exemptions. This year, the Department of Finance is offering a new way for homeowners to get off of the lien sale list in addition to those from years past. Eligible homeowners can get off of the lien sale list by deferring their property taxes through the Department’s Property Tax and Interest Deferral (PT AID) Program.

How the Lien Sale Works

Once a lien is sold to a third party, collection agencies can add fees and interest rates as high as 18% onto the debt. Paying the debt can become overwhelming, especially if you already have a tight budget, and a lien could lead to foreclosure. It is possible that a foreclosure can be initiated as little as six months after the sale, if the interest on the debt remains unpaid and no payment plan is initiated. It takes far less time to file a foreclosure for an unpaid lien than it does for an unpaid mortgage. If you are behind on both your mortgage and taxes, we advise that you contact your mortgage company to discuss how to resolve the lien.

When is a lien eligible to be sold?

    • For 1-3 family homes, a tax lien is sold if a homeowner has sustained a debt of at least $1000 for over three years.
    • For 2-3 family homes, a water or sewer lien of at least $2000 will also be sold if it has been due for over a year.

Have further questions? Visit HomeownerHelpNY.com for more on the NYC tax lien sale. Please direct media and other public inquiries about the sale to press@cnycn.org.