Taxing Bureau's Duty to Investigate Owner's Current Address
In Appeal of Ruffner), 828 A.2d 475 (Pa.Cmwlth.2003), aff'd, 580 Pa. 63, 859 A.2d 471 (2004), the Court succinctly summarized the law on conducting a reasonable investigation for an owner's current address as:
A taxing bureau's duty to investigate such matters is confined to determining the owners of record and then to use ordinary common sense business practices to ascertain proper addresses where notice of the tax sale may be given.
Where notice is obviously not effectively reaching the owners of record, the taxing bureau must go beyond the mere ceremonial act of notice by certified mail.
However, due process does not require the taxing bureau to perform the equivalent of a title search or to make decisions to quiet title. 828 A.2d at 479.
See also, Jones, 547 U.S. at, 164 L. Ed. 2d 415, (reasoning that "what steps are reasonable in response to new information depends upon what the new information reveals.").
Section 607.1 of the Law also requires:
(a) When any notification of a pending tax sale or a tax sale subject to court confirmation is required to be mailed to any owner...and such mailed notification is...returned without the required receipted personal signature of the addressee...then, before the tax sale can be conducted or confirmed, the bureau must exercise reasonable efforts to discover the whereabouts of such person or entity and notify him.
The bureau's efforts shall include, but not necessarily be restricted to, a search of current telephone directories for the county and of the dockets and indices of the county tax assessment offices, recorder of deeds office and prothonotary's office, as well as contacts made to any apparent alternate address or telephone number which may have been written on or in the file pertinent to such property.
When such reasonable efforts have been exhausted, regardless of whether or not the notification efforts have been successful, a notation shall be placed in the property file describing the efforts made and the results thereof, and the property may be rescheduled for sale or the sale may be confirmed as provided in this act.