In re Foreclosure of Tax Liens (WI)


Summary: Wis. Stat. § 75.521 only requires counties to mail foreclosure petitions to addresses that can be ascertained from the record relating to the affected parcel located in the office of the register of deeds. The county need not expand its search beyond the recorded registry.


In re Foreclosure of Tax Liens, 2013 WI App 29, 346 Wis. 2d 264, 828 N.W.2d 262 (Wis. 2013).

Facts: Sebastian Madej owned two parcels of real estate that were financed by and mortgaged in favor of Associated Bank. The mortgages were recorded in Juneau County's office of the register of deeds. Neither of these mortgages listed an address for Associated. Madej failed to pay taxes on the properties. Associated paid the 2003 and 2004 delinquent taxes on the property, attaching a cover letter which listed its address at 1305 Main Street, Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Madej defaulted on the mortgages. Associated filed a foreclosure action and recorded a lis pendens notice that did not list an address for Associated.

The circuit court entered default judgments against Madej in the foreclosure action. Associated mailed a payment to the county treasurer in order to satisfy the delinquent taxes for 2006. The county treasurer mailed a tax receipt to Associated at its Main Street address. Before the sheriff's sale, Associated and Madej settled and moved to vacate the foreclosure judgment.

No taxes were paid on the two properties from 2007-2009. In 2010, the County filed a notice of commencement of proceeding in rem to foreclose tax liens, including a petition that listed 94 parcels, including Madej’s two properties, that had unpaid taxes on which the County sought foreclosure. The County hired a title insurance company to obtain the names and addresses of owners and secured creditors. The title insurance company listed Associated’s address as “unknown” because no address was found in the office of the register of deeds with relation to the two Madej properties.

Associated had an interest in another mortgage, parcel 79, in that same in rem action. The title insurance company found an address for Associated relating to this property. The County sent a notice, petition, and list of affected parcels to Associated at its address for parcel 79.

Associated never filed an answer for the tax lien foreclosure action with regards to Madej’s properties. The circuit court entered a default judgment that vested ownership of Madjec's properties with the County. Associated moved to vacate the foreclosure judgment. It argued that the County did not strictly comply with Wis. Stat. § 75.521, stating that the County did not send notice to Associated’s Main Street address. Moreover, Associated claimed that the County could have ascertained its address from documents other than those records relating to the affected parcels in the office of the register of deeds.

The circuit court denied Associated’s motion, finding that the County did not need to look at records other than those located at the office of the register of deeds in order to obtain an address. Associated appealed.

Holding: Affirmed. The court found that the language of Wis. Stat. § 75.521 requiring identification of each parcel as their interests “appear of record in the office of the register of deeds” indicated that the County was not required to search beyond those records located in the office of the register of deeds and related to the affected parcels. Because the last address of Associated could not be ascertained by the recorded mortgages on the Madej property, the county was not required to mail a copy of the petition. For these reasons the holding of the lower court was affirmed.


Opinion Year: 
By: ATG Underwriting Department | Posted on: Thu, 05/23/2013 - 2:05pm