The City’s Tax Lien Sale Now Delayed Until Late September

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Image Credit: Mayors Press Office

Governor Cuomo signs executive order to delay tax lien sale. On September 4, 2020, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a delay of the City’s annual tax lien and water lien sale. The sale which was originally scheduled for May 2020 and was postponed to September 4, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, will now take place on September 25, 2020. The announcement comes after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order suspending the City’s ability to hold a lien sale. To read the Governor’s executive order click here.

Days before the executive order, New York State Attorney General Letitia James sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio pleading for him to remove small homes from the City’s annual tax lien sale. James asked instead that the Mayor wait to hold the sale until after the state of emergency. In the letter’s conclusion James stated, “By moving forward with this lien sale, New York City is making an affirmative decision to further destabilize New Yorkers encountering financial hardship in order to enrich private investors.” The letter includes signatures from fifty-seven public officials from the City Council, State Senate, State Assembly and the United States Congress. To view Attorney General James’ letter click here.

The City offers a multitude of tax payment options for individuals fiscally impacted by COVID-19. The Department of Finance is offering exemption and abatement programs, standard payment plans and for qualified property owners, a Property Tax and Interest Deferral program. To read CityLand’s prior coverage of the Department of Finance’s payment plans and deferral programs click here.

The annual tax lien sale is administered by the Department of finance. Properties with overdue property taxes, water and sewer charges and other property charges are sold to a non-profit trust. Beforehand, the Department of Finance sends four warning notices to property owners in arrears. These notices come at least three months before the scheduled sale. According to the Mayor’s press office, “More than 80 percent of owners pay the full amount owed, enter into payment plans, or obtain an exemption that removes them from the risk pool.”

With the budget deficit in the billions, the lien sale would alleviate some of the City’s financial hardships.


Governor Cuomo said, “COVID-19 caused enormous disruption in the daily lives of New Yorkers, including their ability to keep a roof over their head,” adding, “the tax and water lien sale was delayed in May in recognition of this hardship, and given the current economic climate it makes sense to delay it again so that homeowners aren’t facing further uncertainty. This measure is part and parcel with our ongoing efforts to help New Yorkers weather the ongoing pandemic.”

Attorney General James said in a statement, “It is the responsibility of government to relieve the financial hardships of the people wherever possible, not exacerbate them. I am proud that my office worked with Governor Cuomo and his team to take immediate action to protect hardworking homeowners during this stressful time.”

In making the announcement, Mayor de Blasio stated “COVID-19 has hit the pocketbooks of New Yorkers hard, and we’re doing whatever we can to give New Yorkers some relief. Postponing the lien sale will allow New Yorkers more time to work with the City on their best path forward.”

Acting Queens Borough President Sharon Lee stated, “It was simply inhumane and unjust to proceed with the 2020 New York City Tax lien sale today. Thanks to intervention by Attorney General James as well as Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order today, thousand of families and homeowners—many of whom are here in Queens—are granted precious reprieve and will be able to breath a little easier during this ongoing state of emergency. Without it, the City’s untimely lien sale, would have displaced families, destabilized communities and disrupted generational wealth build.”

By: Jason Rogovich (Jason Rogovich is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019)



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