The court clarifies several aspects relating to properly barring the right to redeem:
(1) With regard to foreclosure of the right to redeem, Georgia law holds that a party who owns “any right, title, or interest in or lien” on the subject property is entitled to redeem (see O.C.G.A. § 48-4-40). Therefore, because of the word “any,” even a party with an unrecorded interest is entitled to redeem a property lost at a tax sale.
(2) A party’s failure to record its interest does, however, have consequences because the holder of an unrecorded interest is not entitled to get a notice of foreclosure of the right to redeem. See OCGA § 48-4-45(a)(1)(c) and Freeman v. Eastern Sav. Bank, 271 Ga. 439, 440 (1) (520 SE2d 902) (1999). This means a tax deed holder can successfully bar the right to redeem without notifying persons or entities not in the chain of title. For this reason, a title search and careful examination of the title search is necessary in all cases.
(3) Regarding service by publication, the court confirmed that if the name and address of an interested party can be reasonably ascertained, notice of a tax sale by publication does not meet the requirements of due process. Hamilton v. Renewed Hope, Inc., 277 Ga. 465, 466 (589 SE2d 81) (2003). Consequently, tax deed holders must make a reasonable effort to locate all interested parties to successfully complete a barment, and cannot simply rely on publication.
(4) Payment of taxes, in and of itself, does not create an interest in property sufficient to trigger the notice requirements mentioned above. Thus, in this case, the party trying to redeem, who was not in the chain of title but had paid taxes, was not entitled to receive a barment notice.
Here, the tax deed owner won and the party trying to redeem lost. However, all parties who deal with tax deeds in Georgia can learn from this case. If you own a tax deed and need a lawyer, please call us at (404) 382-9994 to discuss barring the right to redeem for your tax deed.