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Heffley’s anti-blight bill advances to Senate

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-Carbon, that would assist municipalities in identifying the owners of blighted properties by requiring registration prior to a tax sale advanced to the Senate for consideration after its overwhelming approval by the House of Representatives on Monday.

“One of the biggest problems for Pennsylvania municipalities in dealing with blighted properties is the ability of negligent owners to hide behind the corporate veil,” Heffley said.

“Many times, the same person will buy properties at delinquent tax sale using numerous corporate names.

“As a result, code officials struggle to locate a responsible party when trying to address problems associated with a blighted property in their communities. It is my hope that by adding the requirements included in this legislation, it will be easier for municipalities to track down negligent property owners.”

Specifically, House Bill 264 would create a preregistration requirement for potential bidders at tax sales.

Any potential bidder must appear at the county tax claim bureau no less than 10 days before the scheduled sale to register. Counties may establish a registration fee under the proposal.

Registration requires providing contact information and a signed affidavit stating they are not delinquent in any taxes or municipal utility bills or engaged in any unsafe property management activity.

The tax claim bureau then provides the list of applicants to the municipality at least five days prior to the sale.

During the last session, Heffley introduced similar legislation, which is a top priority of the bicameral bipartisan Statewide Blight Task Force.