Several times during the course of the year our office will get a call from someone who either claims they have acquired or possibly lost title to real estate through a tax sale. Louisiana law provides that real estate may be sold for nonpayment of property taxes at the expiration of the year in which the taxes are due. However, real estate sold at tax sale is redeemable for three years after the date of recordation of the tax sale. After the passage of the three-year redemptive period, the tax debtor no longer has the right to redeem the property sold at tax sale.
Following the three-year redemptive period, a tax sale purchaser may ultimately gain clear title to the property purchased at a tax sale by bringing an action to quiet the tax title against the former owner and tax debtor. This action is important because although the three-year redemptive period may have passed, the prior owner may still have rights to annul the tax sale for various reasons.
Court decisions handed down in recent years have made it more difficult for the tax sale purchaser to quiet title. It is now well settled that under the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment, the giving of notice of delinquency is mandatory and constitutes grounds for annulment of the tax sale. These recent court decisions have placed much scrutiny on what constitutes the requisite notice, which have placed a heavy burden on the tax sale purchaser to quiet title. Consequently, the tax sale purchaser almost certainly will have to hire an attorney at some point, which costs should be factored before investing in tax sale transactions.