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Changes to Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure Regarding Sheriff’s Sales

May 12, 2014 | Category: Law Alerts | Tags:

On March 7, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved certain amendments to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, including Rule 3129.3 (b), which governs the procedure for postponing or continuing sheriff’s sales.  This amendment took effect on April 7, 2014.

Changes to Sale Date Continuance

The pre-amendment version of Rule 3129.3(b)(1) was non-specific with respect to an execution creditor providing written notice of the new continued sale date. Rather, under the pre-amendment version of the Rule, an execution creditor could continue the sheriff’s sale, no more than two times, to a date certain within one hundred and thirty days of the scheduled sale, so long as the execution creditor made a public announcement of the new date at the time and place fixed for the original sale.  This amendment supersedes the provisions of the rule that limits the number of times a sale can be continued within one hundred and thirty days of the scheduled sale date.

Execution Creditor Requirements

More importantly, the amendment to Rule 3129.3 (b) now requires an execution creditor to file:

  1.    A notice of the date of the continued sheriff’s sale with the prothonotary at least fifteen [15] days before the continued sale date.
  2.    A certificate with the sheriff confirming the filing of the notice of the continued sale date.

Failure to comply with the notice and filing requirements above will result in the sheriff rescheduling the continued sheriff’s sale for the next available sale date, regardless of the execution creditor’s preference. This will delay the execution creditor’s recovery. As a result, it is important for an execution creditor to comply with the new filing requirements to avoid such delays. In practice, this amendment will have little impact on an execution creditor’s ability to continue a sheriff’s sale at the eleventh hour, but will require strict adherence to the filing deadlines fifteen days before the continued sale date.

Divestiture of Junior Lienholder

In addition, the amendment to Rule 3135 provides the successful bidder at a sheriff’s sale a method to divest the interest of a junior lienholder who did not receive notice of the sheriff’s sale as required by the rules. Specifically, the amendment enables the successful bidder at a sheriff’s sale to file a petition with a rule to show cause requesting that the lien held by the junior lienholder be divested or it allows the execution creditor, who is the successful bidder at sheriff’s sale, to participate in a second sheriff’s sale with only the junior lienholder specified in the petition or it allows any other relief that is proper.

Termination of Garnishment

Lastly, an amendment to Rule 3111 provides a defendant or third-party garnishee to petition the court to terminate a garnishment if there has been no activity on the garnishment for at least one year. Prior to this amendment, a garnishment could remain in place until the underlying judgment was satisfied.

Loren L. Speziale represents financial institutions in transactional and litigation matters involving commercial and residential real property and creditors’ rights. Her approach to each representation is to understand the client’s goals and provide personalized and cost-effective services. Whether it is a litigation matter or a workout arrangement, Loren provides her clients with knowledgeable and enthusiastic counsel.

Zachary R. Fowler provides litigation support to businesses of all sizes in matters concerning employment discrimination and contract disputes. He has worked with small businesses and large corporations in a variety of industries including banking, construction, entertainment, and health and medical services. Additionally, Zach provides litigation support to individuals in matters concerning collection, landlord-tenant disputes, and other small claim issues.

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