The deadline for providing notice to owners of properties purchased at this year’s tax sale is fast approaching. Tax sales occur on the last Monday of September. The Local Government Act requires that the collector give written notice of the tax sale and of the redemption period to persons registered in the land title office as owners of the fee simple title, and to the owners of all registered charges. The notice must be given not later than 3 months after the tax sale. This year, the last day to give notice of a tax sale is December 27. Failure to provide notice by the deadline can result in the tax sale being set aside, or in the municipality having to indemnify the registered owner for losses sustained because of the tax sale.
Notice of the tax sale must be served personally or by registered mail. Where service is by registered mail, the collector should obtain proof that the registered owner of the parcel actually signed to acknowledge receipt of the notice. This proof can come in the form of confirmation from Canada Post that the item was received, but only if the signature block on the confirmation notice contains the signature of the registered owner of the property, rather than the signature of another resident at the same address.
Where a corporation is the registered owner, notice should be served at the company’s registered office. The address of the company’s registered office should be obtained through the Registrar of Companies, to ensure the information is up to date.
If the notice of tax sale cannot be served personally or by registered mail, the only other option is to apply to court for an order of substituted service. In order to obtain such an order, the court requires evidence of past attempts at service in affidavit form. Obtaining these orders is usually straightforward, but it becomes more difficult the closer you get to the deadline because of limited court time around the holidays, and last minute scrambling to obtain evidence of attempted service.
Rather than waiting to the last minute, acting now to attempt service and if necessary obtain an order of substituted service can reduce the possibility of missing this important deadline.