Some surprises in Norfolk tax sale
In this market, front-to-back contamination of a property is apparently no deterrence to bidding on a home with a bargain-basement price tag.
A contaminated home at 28 Queen Street in Langton attracted five bids this week during Norfolk County’s latest sale for back taxes. Treasurer James Johnson and an assistant opened the bids at the deadline for tenders 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Norfolk’s asking price was $6,780. This includes the taxes owing, interest, penalties, and administration charges. The top bid was $11,185. If that tender doesn’t pan out, the next highest bidder at $8,265 gets the keys to the home.
If the next owner doesn’t know by now, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit posted the house in 2009 as potentially unsafe for human habitation.
This is due to a fuel spill 30 years ago at a former service station across the street. According to the Ministry of the Environment, the fuel migrated under the road and has contaminated six properties on the west side of the street.
The home at 28 Queen Street was especially hard hit. The health unit says the home is filled with hydrocarbon fumes, some of which are known to cause cancer.
For its part, the Norfolk treasury department says it is “buyer beware” when it comes to tax sales. In response to an inquiry, tax collector Sue Boughner noted recently that the county flagged the contamination issue in its advertising.
Another notable outcome from Wednesday’s sale involves a retail storefront at 44 Robinson Street in Simcoe. This is the storefront framed on one side by a former coin Laundromat and British Baked Goods on the other.
Norfolk needed $50,350 to clear the arrears on Robinson Street but received a single bid in the amount of $86,000.
Due to provincial privacy regulations, the county does not divulge the identity of successful bidders. As for the surplus funds, treasurer Johnson says the people with a primary interest in the property at the time of the sale can apply through the courts to retrieve the overpayment.
There was a time not long ago when municipalities could apply for the surplus payment after it sat dormant for a year, but the legislation in this area has changed.
“All I know now is that we don’t get it anymore,” Johnson said.
Another noteworthy outcome from this week’s sale was the lack of interest in the former Delhi Solac property on Waverly Street in Delhi. The county needed a bid of $418,525 to clear the arrears but received no tenders.
The future of the 3.7-acre property is uncertain. Norfolk may choose to enter the property in a future tax sale or claim it as municipal property. It could end up sitting as an orphaned, unmaintained parcel.
Other results from Wednesday’s sale include:
- The owners of a one-acre industrial property at 380 Second Ave. W. in Simcoe redeemed title by paying the $40,980 owing before the deadline closed for bidding.
- The sale of a vacant parcel on Charlotteville Road 8 was cancelled before the bidding deadline. More than $12,000 was owing on this parcel when the sale was announced earlier this month. There was also no interest in a small vacant parcel on Swan Street in Port Dover.
- A vacant parcel on Windham Road 12 with $47,700 owing attracted four bids. The highest was $206,560 while the next highest was $169,000.
The tender packages were opened in the council chamber at Governor Simcoe Square.
Johnson explained to the half dozen people in attendance that — according to Ontario law — the owners of the arrears property can redeem them at any time up until a proper deed is drafted naming the new owner and filed at the land registry office.
Johnson said the tax sale transaction is not complete until that occurs.