On January 1st of each year, a tax lien attaches to all real property in Texas, to secure the payment of property taxes. This is pursuant to the Texas Property Tax Code. The Property Tax Code also sets this lien’s priority in terms of superiority (or simply put, seniority). This means that even if the tax lien attaches to a property after another valid existing lien, the tax lien is considered senior to the other lien e.g. mortgage lien, or judgment lien.
Property Tax bills are mailed out to property owners in October and November of each year. Payment is due by January 31st of the following year and by February 1st, the payment is considered delinquent. Interest then accrues at a rate of 1% per month or 12% per annum.
At any time after tax payment on Property becomes delinquent, a taxing unit may file suit to foreclose the lien securing payment of the tax. In reality, taxing units rarely exercise this right immediately. Most times, property taxes will remain delinquent for at least two years before a taxing authority will initiate a tax lawsuit. However, it is best to try and resolve the delinquent payments before a lawsuit is filed.
If the past due payment remains unresolved after notice of the lawsuit has been given to the property owner and any lienholders, the civil court will grant an order for foreclosure of the lien and for sale of the real property.
In Texas, tax foreclosure sales are done by public auctions that take place on the first Tuesday of each month. Following the sale, the property owner has a right of redemption, but that comes with a higher interest rate and may include additional costs. For more on redemption, see our video: Getting Property Back After Tax Foreclosure.