Section 602 of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law
Section 602 of the Real Estate Tax Sale Law, 72 P.S. 5860.602 states:
(a) at least thirty (30) days prior to any scheduled sale the bureau shall give notice thereof, not less than once in two (2) newspapers of general circulation in the county, if so many are published therein, and once in the legal journal, if any, designated by the court for the publication of legal notices. Such notice shall set forth (1) the purposes of such sale, (2) the time of such sale, (3) the place of such sale, (4) the terms of the sale including the approximate upset price, (5) the descriptions of the properties to be sold as stated in the claims entered and the name of the owner.
(b) Where the owner is unknown and has been unknown for a period of not less than five years, the name of the owner need not be included in such description.
(c) the description may be given intelligible abbreviations.
(d) Such published notice shall be addressed to the "owners of properties described in this notice and to all persons having liens, judgments or municipal or other claims against such properties."
(e) In addition to such publications, similar notice of the sale shall also be given by the bureau as follows:
(1) at least thirty (30) days before the date of the sale, by United States certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested, postage prepaid, to each owner as defined by this act.
(2) If return receipt is not received from each owner pursuant to the provisions of clause (1), then, at least ten (10) days before the date of the sale, similar notice of the sale shall be given to each owner who failed to acknowledge the first notice by United States first class mail, proof of mailing, at his last known post office address by virtue of the knowledge and information possessed by the bureau, by the tax collector for the taxing district making the return and by the county office responsible for assessments and revisions of taxes. It shall be the duty of the bureau to determine the last post office address known to said collector and county assessment office.
(3) Each property scheduled for sale shall be posted at least ten (10) days prior to the sale. 72 P.S. 5860.602(a)-(e).
The Section a tax claim bureau to provide three separate methods of notice: publication at least thirty days prior to the sale, notification by certified mail at least thirty days prior to the sale, and posting of the property at least ten days prior to the sale.
If the bureau fails to carry out all three, the tax sale is void. Hunter v. Washington County Tax Bureau, 729 A.2d 142 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1999).
It is the taxing authority's burden to prove compliance with the statutory notice provisions. Casanta v. Clearfield County Tax Claim Bureau, 62 Pa. Commw. 216, 435 A.2d 681, 683 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1981).
In Hughes v. Chaplin, 389 Pa. 93, 95, 132 A.2d 200, 202 (1957), our Supreme Court established that a prima facie presumption of regularity in a tax sale exists until the contrary is shown.
In Dolphin Service Corp. v. Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau, 125 Pa. Commw. 220, 557 A.2d 38 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1989), this Court, harmonizing Casanta with Hughes, held that the filing of exceptions overcomes the presumption of regularity in the tax sale; accordingly, the filing of exceptions requires a bureau to prove that it has complied with the statutory notice requirements.
Strict compliance with those requirements is required in order to ensure due process, and the burden to show strict compliance lies exclusively with the tax claim bureau. Michener v. Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau, 671 A.2d 285, 289 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1996).