Yesterday, the DC Tax Office released its annual list of tax sales. This is a list of properties around the District that are so delinquent on property tax payments that the city is auctioning off the claim against the property. What this means is that anybody can bid and win a claim against these properties. Once they win the claim, they can move to foreclose on the property if the property owner continues to not pay the tax.
There are a bunch of properties on the list here in Georgetown. One in particular caught GM’s attention. It’s a tiny lot that covers a small walkway behind four houses at the northeast corner of Q and 30th:
The list from the tax office states that the owner of the lot is unknown. The only record for the lot in the DC Recorder of Deeds is a record of a mortgage being paid off on the lot in 2001. The listed owners at that point don’t appear to live in DC anymore, nor own any of the surrounding properties.
The property only owes DC $400. It is almost certainly encumbered by the likely existence of an easement allowing the five properties along Q St. to access the walkway.
This all may sound a little familiar. In 2015, a Virginia resident bought via a similar tax sale an alleyway between 33rd and Potomac behind O St. That was also an alleyway encumbered by easements. The individual who purchased the alleyway then attempted to have fences erected at each end, essentially blocking the residents from their garages. It was a blatant attempt at extortion. It failed, but not before a lot of time and lawyers’ fees was spent.
Which is all a long way of saying that if you happen to be (or know) one of these five homeowners, you may want to bid on the tax sale and block any similar extortion attempt.