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AGO 1960 No. 126 - June 23, 1960
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington

TAXATION - PERSONS WHO MAY REDEEM PROPERTY UPON WHICH TAXES ARE DELINQUENT AND UPON WHICH CERTIFICATES OF DELINQUENCY HAVE BEEN ISSUED.

In order to redeem, by the payment of the taxes, interest, and costs due thereon, real property upon which certificates of delinquency have been issued, a person must have at least an existing pecuniary interest in such property.

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                                                                   June 23, 1960

Honorable Herbert E. Wieland
Prosecuting Attorney
Pacific County
431 Second
Raymond, Washington                                                                                               Cite as:  AGO 59-60 No. 126

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged, you have requested an opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            May a person who has no legally recognized interest in real estate, upon which property taxes have been delinquent and upon which certificates of delinquency have been issued, redeem the property and thus remove it from a foreclosure proceeding by payment of the taxes, interest, and costs due thereon?

            We answer your question in the negative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            RCW 84.64.060 provides as follows:

            "Any person owning an interest in lands upon which judgment is prayed, as provided in this chapter, may in person or by agent pay the taxes, interest, and costs due thereon to the county treasurer of the county in which the lands are situated, at any time before the execution of deed; and for the amount  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] so paid he shall have a lien on the property, and the collecting officer shall give a receipt for such payment, or issue to the payer a certificate showing such payment."

            RCW 84.64.070 provides in pertinent part as follows:

            "Real property upon which certificates of delinquency have been issued under the provisions of this chapter, may be redeemed at any time before the issuance of tax deed, by payment, in legal money of the United States, to the county treasurer of the proper county, for the benefit of the owner of the certificate of delinquency against the property, of the amount for which it was sold, together with interest at twelve percent per year thereon from date of issuance of the certificate of delinquency until paid.  The person redeeming the property shall also pay the amount of all taxes, interest, and costs accruing after the issuance of the certificate of delinquency, and paid by the holder of the certificate or his assignee, together with twelve percent interest on such payment from the day it was made.  No fee shall be charged for any redemption.

            ". . .

            "Any redemption made shall inure to the benefit of the person having the legal or equitable title to the property redeemed, subject, however, to the right of the person making the redemption to be reimbursed by the person benefited."

            Substantially the same statutory provisions as those quoted above were construed in Kienbaum v. New Republic Company, 139 Wash. 298, 246 Pac. 925 (1926); and the court therein set down the following test for the interest which a person must have in order that he may redeem property upon which certificates of delinquency have been issued.

            ". . . It seems to us, that the words 'owning an interest in,' as used in that section, cannot be held to evidence a legislative intent to restrict the right of redemption to those having some ownership in the fee, when read in the light of the  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] provisions giving the redemptioner a lien upon the property for the amount he pays to effect redemption, and the making of the redemption 'inure to the benefit of the person having the legal or equitable title.'  These provisions, read together, all but conclusively point to a legislative intent, as we think, to secure the right of redemption to anyone who has an existing pecuniary interest, for the protection of which he is entitled to look to the property in the hands of the legal or equitable owner thereof, and, by reason of such pecuniary interest, he is interested in having title remain unimpaired in the legal or equitable owner."  (139 Wash. at 303)

            Thus it is clear that in order to redeem real property upon which certificates of delinquency have been issued a person need not have full ownership; however, the person must have at the minimum an "existing pecuniary interest" of some sort.  Accordingly, unless a person can show at least such an interest, he is not entitled to redeem the property.

            We trust the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

TIMOTHY R. MALONE
Assistant Attorney General

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