County makes progress on nuisance house

High Street house set for Sheriff's Sale

A Sheriff Sale is scheduled for the property located at 139 W. High St., Circleville. Many, including a neighbor, have called this a nuisance property and claim that it’s dangerous.

“All this causes a lot of stuff with a house full of kids. There’s always cats and probably rats and people that you see squatting and then leave. It’s scary to live next to,” a next-door-neighbor said. “If you look at the side, you can see where it’s starting to bow out. It’s terrifying. Any day, we could be sitting on the porch. When I moved in it was straight, and now it’s starting to bow. It’s scary.”

The neighbor fears that the house might one day collapse with her children near by. She said, “I have a special needs son, and he sits out on the corner of the porch because you can feel the wind. He’ll sit there for an hour or two with his aide or me, or sit on his swing. All I can think of is if that thing falls, I wonder how much warning we’ll have.”

We caught up with County Treasurer Elick, who has been dealing with the property from a tax perspective. He said dealing with a property like this involves his office, the County Prosecutor, and finally the Sheriff’s Office. Elick said, “This property we’re referring to, on High Street, has been a nuisance property. It wasn’t a property that could readily be sold through the standard auction foreclosure, so we turned it over to the county prosecutor to pursue the tax foreclosure sale.”

Elick said this particular house took longer to deal with because of the circumstances in which it became abandoned. He added, “I understand in this particular case, the owner of this property is deceased. To do a tax foreclosure, it’s a little more lengthy because it has to have a publishing by service to notify any potential heirs to that property that it is going to be up for auction.” He said some properties can take up to a year to get to the point where they can be even be scheduled for auction.

According to Elick, in normal cases, the County takes steps first to avoid the expense and delay associated with a tax foreclosure sale. He said, “We assess each property as to the amount to the delinquent taxes, the length of time it’s been delinquent versus what the cost might be to pursue an action, which might be a tax foreclosure. For example, on a normal tax foreclosure, by the time you pay the court costs, the costs of publications, and all the notices that’s required, they can average between $900 to $1500 per parcel. So if a parcel only has $2500 in delinquent taxes, and it’s going to cost us $1200 to pursue that, it may not be the best course of action at the time. That $1200 could be used for a parcel that has significantly larger delinquency on it.”

Elick told me that they try to setup payment options with the property owner, “allowing them to cure the default on the delinquent taxes and avoid any further legal actions.” He added that in some cases, they can sell the lien to a third party. Elick explained, “A tax lien sale is where we’re selling the delinquent taxes owed on a property to a third party vendor. The advantage of that is that we will get dollar for dollar on the delinquent taxes paid back into the county. There’s very little cost involved in a tax lien sale.”

When asked what the chance was that the foreclosure sale could be canceled, Elick was pretty confident the sale would go through. He said, “If it was serviced by publication, then no-one came forward to claim any interest in the property. Anybody who has a legitimate right in the property can cure the default up to the point of the actual sale of the property. I don’t really look for this to be the case with this property.”

Some properties, the county can’t foreclose on. Elick said, “If that property is in a legitimate foreclosure by a mortgage company or bank, or in the case of a bankruptcy, that puts a stay on that until 1 of 2 things happens: either the property gets relinquished out of the bankruptcy or the bank that has the foreclosure action already pending, and gets it to the Sheriff’s Sale.”

Elick summarized that the taxes always get paid first in a Sheriff’s Sale, then court costs, then liens in the order that they were filed.


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