BY ANGELA MATUA
New York City’s annual tax lien sale will take place on Friday, May 15, and Queens homeowners who are not aware that they are on the list can face increased financial burden and even foreclosure.
The tax lien list includes owners who are delinquent on their property taxes, water and sewer bills and other property charges.
The Department of Finance (DOF) sends five letters to each homeowner to notify them that they are on the list. They also release the list 90 days, 60 days, 30 days and 10 days before the sale.
One nonprofit organization is using its website to advise nonprofits and elected officials on how to make the biggest impact when doing outreach to remove people from the list.
“The way the city releases the data, it’s very hard to see as a layperson where the biggest impact is,” Matthew Hassett, director of policy and communications of Center for NYC Neighborhoods said. “So we thought by putting this on a map, it would help everyone involved.”
Center for NYC Neighborhoods (CNYCN) is also aiming to educate the most at-risk communities. Families can access this map and the resources available to help them avoid the sale at cnycn.org/taxliensale.
Instead of foreclosing on buildings, New York City sells the lien to an authorized third party collection agency. This third party becomes the lienholder and, therefore, purchases the right to collect money that homeowners owe the city.
These lienholders can charge up to 18 percent interest and if this money is not paid, homeowners can be hit with a formal foreclosure proceeding, Hassett said.
Homeowners have several options if they find themselves on this list, according to CNYCN’s website. They can pay off outstanding lien charges in full to DOF or water lien taxes to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
They can also enter into a no money down payment agreement to break down the lien into small payments, which can be paid over a time period of up to 10 years.
Exemptions are available for seniors, people with disabilities, veterans and people on active military duty.
The neighborhoods in Queens with the most one- to four-family homes on the list are Jamaica with 1,203 homes, Queens Village with 728 homes and Rockaway with 478 homes. According to Hassett, the 30-day lien list indicates that there are 3,996 homes in Queens that are in danger of having their liens sold on May 15.
Homeowners can call 311 and speak to DOF to make a payment or visit nyc.gov/liensale to enter a payment agreement or complete exemption forms.
To make water and sewer payments, the DEP can be reached at 718-595-7000 or nyc.gov/dep.
The DOF also hosts outreach sessions to assist owners with payment plans, exemptions and more. The dates and locations are listed at nyc.gov/finance.
Hassett also urged families who have questions about payment plans, exemption forms or any other parts of the lien sale process to call CNYCN at 646-786-0888.