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Title 1. Property Tax Code
Subtitle E. Collections and Delinquency

Chapter 33. Delinquency

Subchapter E. Seizure of Real Property.

Sec. 33.91. Property Subject to Seizure by Municipality.
Sec. 33.911. Property Subject to Seizure by County.
Sec. 33.912. Notice.
Sec. 33.92. Institution of Seizure.
Sec. 33.93. Tax Warrant.
Sec. 33.94. Notice of Tax Sale.
Sec. 33.95. Purchaser.

Sec. 33.91. Property Subject to Seizure by Municipality.

(a) After notice has been provided to a person, the person's real property, whether improved or unimproved, is subject to seizure by a municipality for the payment of delinquent ad valorem taxes, penalties, and interest the person owes on the property and the amount secured by a municipal health or safety lien on the property if:

(1) the property:

(A) is in a municipality;

(B) is less than one acre; and

(C) has been abandoned for at least one year;

(2) the taxes on the property are delinquent for:

(A) each of the preceding five years; or

(B) each of the preceding three years if a lien on the property has been created on the property in favor of the municipality for the cost of remedying a health or safety hazard on the property; and

(3) the tax collector of the municipality determines that seizure of the property under this subchapter for the payment of the delinquent taxes, penalties, and interest, and of a municipal health and safety lien on the property, would be in the best interest of the municipality and the other taxing units after determining that the sum of all outstanding tax and municipal claims against the property plus the estimated costs under Section 33.48 of a standard judicial foreclosure exceed the anticipated proceeds from a tax sale.

(b) The seizure and sale may not be set aside or voided because of any error in determination.

(c) For purposes of this section, a property is presumed to have been abandoned for at least one year if, during that period, the property has remained vacant and a lawful act of ownership of the property has not been exercised. The tax collector of a municipality may rely on the affidavit of any competent person with personal knowledge of the facts in determining whether a property has been abandoned or vacant. For purposes of this subsection:

(1) property is considered vacant if there is an absence of any activity by the owner, a tenant, or a licensee related to residency, work, trade, business, leisure, or recreation; and

(2) "lawful act of ownership" includes mowing or cutting grass or weeds, repairing or demolishing a structure or fence, removing debris, or other form of property upkeep or maintenance performed by or at the request of the owner of the property.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 1017, 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 914, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 319, 2, eff. June 18, 2003.

Cross References:
Seizure of personal property, see Chapter 33, Subchapter B.
Suit to set aside sale of seized real property, see Sec. 16.002, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Tax lien, see Sec. 32.01.
Tax sales of real property, see Sec. 34.01.

Sec. 33.911. Property Subject to Seizure by County.

(a) After notice has been provided to a person, the person's real property, whether improved or unimproved, is subject to seizure by a county for the payment of delinquent ad valorem taxes, penalties, and interest the person owes on the property if:

(1) the property:

(A) is in the county;

(B) is not in a municipality; and

(C) has been abandoned for at least one year;

(2) the taxes on the property are delinquent for each of the preceding five years; and

(3) the county tax assessor-collector determines that seizure of the property under this subchapter for the payment of the delinquent taxes, penalties, and interest would be in the best interest of the county and the other taxing units after determining that the sum of all outstanding tax and county claims against the property plus the estimated costs under Section 33.48 of a standard judicial foreclosure exceed the anticipated proceeds from a tax sale.

(b) The seizure and sale may not be set aside or voided because of any error in determination.

(c) For purposes of this section, a property is presumed to have been abandoned for at least one year if, during that period, the property has remained vacant and a lawful act of ownership of the property has not been exercised. The tax collector of a county may rely on the affidavit of any competent person with personal knowledge of the facts in determining whether a property has been abandoned or vacant. For purposes of this subsection:

(1) property is considered vacant if there is an absence of any activity by the owner, a tenant, or a licensee related to residency, work, trade, business, leisure, or recreation; and

(2) "lawful act of ownership" includes mowing or cutting grass or weeds, repairing or demolishing a structure or fence, removing debris, or other form of property upkeep or maintenance performed by or at the request of the owner of the property.

Added by 1997 Tex. Laws, p. 2899, ch. 914, Sec. 1; amended by 2003 Tex. Laws, 78th Leg., ch. 319, Sec. 4, eff. June 18, 2003..

Cross References:
Seizure of personal property, see Chapter 33, Subchapter B.
Suit to set aside sale of seized real property, see Sec. 16.002, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Tax lien, see Sec. 32.01.
Tax sales of real property, see Sec. 34.01.

Sec. 33.912. Notice.

(a) A person is considered to have been provided the notice required by Sections 33.91 and 33.911 if by affidavit or otherwise the collector shows that the assessor or collector for the municipality or county mailed the person each bill for municipal or county taxes required to be sent the person by Section 31.01:

(1) in each of the five preceding years, if the taxes on the property are delinquent for each of those years; or

(2) in each of the three preceding years, if:

(A) the taxes on the property are delinquent for each of those years; and

(B) a lien on the property has been created on the property in favor of the municipality for the cost of remedying a health or safety hazard on the property.

(b) If notice under Subsection (a) is not provided, the notice required by Section 33.91 or 33.911 shall be given by the assessor or the collector for the municipality or county, as applicable, by:

(1) serving, in the manner provided by Rule 21a, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, a true and correct copy of the application for a tax warrant filed under Section 33.92 to each person known, or constructively known through reasonable inquiry, to own or have an interest in the property;

(2) publishing in the English language a notice of the assessor's intent to seize the property in a newspaper published in the county in which the property is located if, after exercising reasonable diligence, the assessor or collector cannot determine ownership or the address of the known owners; or

(3) if required under Subsection (g), posting in the English language a notice of the assessor's intent to seize the property if, after exercising reasonable diligence, the assessor or collector cannot determine ownership or the address of the known owners.

(c) A notice under Subsection (b)(1) shall be provided at the time of filing the application for a tax warrant and must be supported by a certificate of service appearing on the application in the same manner and form as provided by Rule 21a, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. The notice is sufficient if sent to the person's last known address.

(d) A notice by publication or posting under Subsection (b) must substantially comply with this subsection. The notice must:

(1) be published or posted at least 10 days but not more than 180 days before the date the application for tax warrant under Section 33.92 is filed;

(2) be directed to the owners of the property by name, if known, or, if unknown, to "the unknown owners of the property described below";

(3) state that the assessor or collector intends to seize the property as abandoned property and that the property will be sold at public auction without further notice unless all delinquent taxes, penalties, and interest are paid before the sale of the property; and

(4) describe the property.

(e) A description of the property under Subsection (d)(4) is sufficient if it is the same as the property description appearing on the current tax roll for the county or municipality.

(f) A notice by publication or posting under Subsection (b) may relate to more than one property or to multiple owners of property.

(g) For publishing a notice under Subsection (b)(2), a newspaper may charge a rate that does not exceed the greater of two cents per word or an amount equal to the published word or line rate of that newspaper for the same class of advertising. If notice cannot be provided under Subsection (b)(1) and there is not a newspaper published in the county where the property is located, or a newspaper that will publish the notice for the rate authorized by this subsection, the assessor shall post the notice in writing in three public places in the county. One of the posted notices must be at the door of the county courthouse. Proof of the posting shall be made by affidavit of the person posting the notice or by the attorney for the assessor or collector.

(h) A person is considered to have been provided the notice under Section 33.91 or 33.911 in the manner provided by Subsection (b) if the application for the tax warrant under Section 33.92:

(1) contains the certificate of service as required by Subsection (b)(1);

(2) is accompanied by an affidavit on behalf of the applicable assessor or collector stating the fact of publication under Subsection (b)(2), with a copy of the published notice attached; or

(3) is accompanied by an affidavit of posting on behalf of the applicable assessor or collector under Subsection (g) stating the fact of posting and facts supporting the necessity of posting.

(i) A failure to provide, give, or receive a notice provided under this section does not affect the validity of a sale of the seized property or title to the property.

(j) The costs of publishing notice under this section are chargeable as costs and payable from the proceeds of the sale of the property.

Added by 1997 Tex. Laws, p. 2899, ch. 914, Sec. 1; amended by 2003 Tex. Laws, 78th Leg., ch. 319, Sec. 4, eff. June 18, 2003..

Cross References:
Seizure of personal property, see Chapter 33, Subchapter B.
Suit to set aside sale of seized real property, see Sec. 16.002, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Tax lien, see Sec. 32.01.

Sec. 33.92. Institution of Seizure.

(a) After property becomes subject to seizure under Section 33.91 or 33.911, the collector for a municipality or a county, as appropriate, may apply for a tax warrant to a district court in the county in which the property is located.

(b) The court shall issue the tax warrant if by affidavit the collector shows that the property is subject to seizure under Section 33.91 or 33.911. The collector may show that the property has been abandoned or vacant for at least one year, as required by Section 33.91(a)(1)(C) or 33.911(a)(1)(C) by affidavit of any competent person with personal knowledge of the relevant facts.

(c) The court issuing the tax warrant shall include a statement as to the appraised value of the property according to the most recent appraisal roll approved by the appraisal review board. That value is presumed to be the market value of the property on the date that the warrant is issued.

(d) The collector is entitled, on request in the application, to recover attorney's fees in an amount equal to the compensation specified in the contract with the attorney for collection of the delinquent taxes, penalties, and interest on the property if:

(1) the taxing unit served by the collector contracts with an attorney under Section 6.30;

(2) the existence of the contract and the amount of attorney's fees that equal the compensation specified in the contract are supported by the affidavit of the collector; and

(3) the delinquent tax sought to be recovered is not subject to an additional penalty under Section 33.07 or 33.08 at the time the application is filed.

Added by 1995 Tex. Laws, p 5086, ch. 1017, Sec. 1; amended by 1997 Tex. Laws, p. 2899, ch. 914, Sec. 1; amended by 2003 Tex. Laws, 78th Leg., ch. 319, Sec. 5, eff. June 18, 2003.

Cross References:
Seizure of real property, see Sec. 33.91.

Sec. 33.93. Tax Warrant.

(a) A tax warrant shall direct the sheriff or a constable in the county and the collector for the municipality or the county to seize the property described in the warrant, subject to the right of redemption, for the payment of the ad valorem taxes, penalties, and interest owing on the property included in the application, any attorney's fees included in the application as provided by Section 33.92(d), the amount secured by a municipal health or safety lien on the property included in the application, and the costs of seizure and sale. The warrant shall direct the person whose property is seized to disclose to a person executing the warrant the name and address if known of any other person having an interest in the property.

(b) A bond may not be required of a municipality or county for issuance or delivery of a tax warrant, and a fee or court cost may not be charged for issuance or delivery of the warrant.

(c) On issuance of a tax warrant, the collector shall take possession of the property pending its sale by the officer charged with selling the property.

Added by 1995 Tex. Laws, p 5086, ch. 1017, Sec. 1; amended by 1997 Tex. Laws, p. 2900, ch. 914, Sec. 1; 2003 Tex. Laws, 78th Leg., ch. 319, Sec. 6, eff. June 18, 2003.

Cross References:
Seizure of real property, see Sec. 33.91.
Tax warrant for personal property, see Sec. 33.23.

Sec. 33.94. Notice of Tax Sale.

(a) After a seizure of property, the collector for the municipality or county shall make a reasonable inquiry to determine the identity and address of any person, other than the person against whom the tax warrant is issued, having an interest in the property. The collector shall deliver as soon as possible a notice stating the time and place of the sale and briefly describing the property seized to:

(1) the person against whom the warrant is issued, including each person to whom notice was provided under Section 33.912(a);

(2) each person to whom notice was provided under Section 33.912(b)(1); and

(3) any other person the collector determines has an interest in the property if the collector can ascertain the address of the other person.

(b) Failure to send or receive a notice required by this section does not affect the validity of the sale of the seized property or title to the property.

Added by 1995 Tex. Laws, p 5086, ch. 1017, Sec. 1; amended by 1997 Tex. Laws, p. 2900, ch. 914, Sec. 1; amended by 2003 Tex. Laws, 78th Leg., ch. 319, Sec. 7, eff. June 18, 2003.

Cross References:
Seizure of real property, see Sec. 33.91.
Tax sale notice for personal property, see Sec. 33.25.

Sec. 33.95. Purchaser.

(a) purchaser for value at or subsequent to the tax sale may conclusively presume the validity of the sale and takes free of any claim of a party with a prior interest in the property subject to the provisions of Section 16.002(b), Civil Practice and Remedies Code, and subject to applicable rights of redemption.

Added by 1995 Tex. Laws, p 5086, ch. 1017, Sec. 1; amended by 1997 Tex. Laws, p. 2900, ch. 914, Sec. 1.

Cross References:
Redemption rights for real property, see Sec. 34.21.
Sale of real property, see Sec. 34.01.
Seizure of real property, see Sec. 33.91.
Suit to set aside sale of seized real property, see Sec. 16.002, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

Notes:
Tax liens take priority over claims of creditors, and failure to send notice of a tax sale to a junior lienholder does not affect the validity of the sale or title to seized property. Tax sales extinguish junior liens on personal property, as well as real property. Conseco Finance Servicing Corp. v. J & J Mobile Homes, Inc., 120 S.W.3d 878 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2003, pet. filed).