If I purchase a commercial property at an upset tax sale, are the contents of the building legally mine?

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If I purchase a commercial property at an upset tax sale, are the contents of the building legally mine?

My wife and I are considering bidding on
a commercial property that is full of
stuff including an old car, a boat, etc.
If we win the bid, do the contents
become our property?

Asked on September 2, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Not automatically; only the real estate is subject to the tax sale (since, after all, the tax that whose nonpayment resulted in the sale, real estate tax, itself only applied to the building, not its contents.) There is a process for claiming abandoned personal property (anything that is not real estate) in or on your property, but it varies state by state, and is dfferent for vehicles than for other abandoned property. It also takes some time and effort. Consult with a local attorney about what is involved in trying to claim abandoend property in your state, so you can decide if it is worthwhile doing so.


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