Skip to main content

Buyer Information

Overview of Franklin County Tax Lien Sale


The Franklin County Treasurer would like to thank you for your interest in our tax lien certificate sale. This site gives you a general description of how the sale works in Ohio and some specific information about the Franklin County tax lien certificate sale. You are strongly encouraged to familiarize yourself with the Ohio Revised Code as it pertains to the sale of tax lien certificates (ORC 5721.30 et seq.).

All available liens will be auctioned as a single block for a purchase price estimated to be several million dollars. Tax liens will not be sold individually and Franklin County does not sell "over-the-counter" liens. As in all Ohio counties selling tax certificates, the bulk sale or auction of tax certificates in Franklin County is not designed for individual investors.

Sale Details

The lien sale takes place annually between late October and early November. Check back in early September for sale details.


Bidders seeking to participate in the auction of tax lien certificates estimated to be several million dollars must complete an IRS Form W-9 Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification and submit it with a refundable deposit of $500 about two weeks before the sale (an additional 10% purchase price deposit is due prior to the sale). The registration deposit must be in the form of a cashier's check, money order or certified check made payable to "[Your Company's Name] OR Franklin County Treasurer." By making the payment payable to yourself OR the County Treasurer, the check can be returned to you on the day of sale if you are not the successful bidder. The $500 deposit will be returned to all unsuccessful bidders at the conclusion of the auction. The $500 deposit of the successful bidder will be applied to the purchase price of the liens. Please see the registration form here.

The Franklin County Treasurer's office also requires prospective bidders to submit both a purchaser contact information form and a letter from a financial institution stating that the bidder has sufficient funds to pay the purchase price for the tax certificates with a written authorization for the treasurer to verify such information with the financial institution. These verification documents must be submitted about two weeks before the lien sale. Any prospective bidder that fails to submit the required letter and authorization, or whose financial institution fails to provide the requested verification, shall NOT be permitted to bid. Contact the Tax Lien Department at (614) 525-3438 for information regarding the anticipated purchase price for purposes of this financial verification.

Conduct of the Sale

The bidders are purchasing a large group or portfolio of lien certificates (estimated to be several million dollars) for the full value of the liens. The portfolio of lien certificates is not sold at a discount. Individual lien certificates will not be sold. Beginning in 2015 this sale will be conducted in the form of a negotiated sale. Details of the sale and a copy of the contract may be obtained from the Treasurer's office. The exact value of the lien portfolio cannot be determined until the day immediately preceding the sale. However, the value of the lien portfolio is anticipated to be several million dollars.

The winning purchaser will need to agree to the terms of the agreement. The Treasurer's office will still act as administrator of the certificates. Registered bidders may still submit requests for parcels to be removed from the portfolio, with supporting documentation.

Form and Timing of Payment of the Purchase Price

All bidders must be prepared to pay not less than 10% of the total value of the tax lien certificate portfolio purchased no later than the day prior to the lien sale. Payment must be made in the form of a wire or a cashier or certified check made payable to "[Your Company's Name] OR Franklin County Treasurer." Payment of the balance of the portfolio value plus fees must be made via wire transfer. Evidence of the credit to the Treasurer's account must occur by 12:00 p.m. EST not later than five business days after the day on which the certificate is sold. On the sale date, successful bidder(s) will be given all necessary details for the wire transfer of the balance of the portfolio purchase price.

Value of the Lien & Life of the Lien

The successful bidder will be purchasing a group or portfolio of tax lien certificates from the Franklin County Treasurer. The purchase price for a group or portfolio of lien certificates is the total of all taxes and administrative fees due for each lien in a portfolio at the time of the sale plus any applicable premium to the purchase price. The tax amount includes all penalties, interest and special assessments that are due to the County Treasurer at the time of sale. The value of each lien certificate purchased includes an administrative fee of $300.00 per lien. The certificate interest rate of the successful bid applies to the entire amount of each lien, including the administrative fee.

The lien certificates purchased by the successful bidders are valid for a period between three and six years from the date of purchase. The date of purchase for purposes of the lien certificate expiration date shall be the sale date. If the expiration date falls on a weekend, the tax lien certificate will expire on the next subsequent business day.

List of Properties

A list of properties to be included in the tax lien certificate sale will be made available in electronic format via email free of charge in September. By emailing the Treasurer, you may obtain an email listing of properties included in the tax lien certificate sale. Such public record requests may be directed to Delinquent Tax Division, Office of Franklin County Treasurer, 373 S. High Street, 17th floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215, (614) 525-3438.

Owners of prospective tax lien properties may pay the tax due at any time up to 5:00 pm on the last business day before the auction. Consequently, the Franklin County Treasurer's Office will provide an updated list of properties periodically during the weeks leading up to the auction date. The final updated list of properties will be made available via email on the evening prior to the auction.

Updates to the tax lien properties list will be provided via email to prospective bidders who have submitted such email address information to the Treasurer's Office. Prospective bidders seeking such updates in an alternative format must contact Delinquent Tax Division, Franklin County Treasurer's Office (614) 525-3438 to arrange for any alternative format. Once again, the final updated list of properties will be made available via email on the a day or so prior to the sale. Finalized list(s) of the properties in tax lien certificate portfolios will be available on the morning of the auction.

Auditor Information

The Office of Franklin County Auditor Michael Stinziano has an outstanding website that will provide additional information regarding the properties listed. The website can be found at To query parcel information, you will need to use the District and Parcel Number, for example, 010-003214-00.

Recording of the Tax Liens

Lien Certificate Holders will be provided a printed copy of all tax lien certificates purchased. The Treasurer's Office will record the tax certificate in the Office of the Franklin County Recorder.

Tax lien certificate information is noted on the electronic tax records of the Franklin County Treasurer's Office.

Buyers' Right of Redemption

For the period of one year from the date of sale, the property owner has the right to pay the tax certificate lien in full with interest. Pursuant to the Ohio Revised Code, partial payments made by the taxpayer will be retained by the Treasurer's Office and disbursed to the lien certificate holder when payment is made in full.

Calculation of Interest

As mentioned previously, the interest rate of the successful bid applies to the entire amount of each lien, including the administrative fee. Interest will be calculated on a simple interest basis with 1/12 of the annual interest applied on the first day of each month. Interest is not calculated on the premium bid on the entire portfolio.

"Certificate interest period" means, with respect to a tax certificate sold under section 5721.32 of the Revised Code, the period beginning on the date the certificate is purchased and ending on one of the following dates:

  1. In the case of foreclosure proceedings instituted under section 5721.37 of the Revised Code, the date the certificate holder submits a payment to the treasurer under division (B) of that section;
  2. In the case of a certificate parcel redeemed under division (A) or (C) of section 5721.38 of the Revised Code, the date the owner of record of the certificate parcel, or any other person entitled to redeem that parcel, pays to the county treasurer or to the certificate holder, as applicable, the full amount determined under that section.

Foreclosure Process

Foreclosure of the tax lien certificate parcels is governed by Ohio Revised Code §5721.37 Foreclosure cannot commence until one year from the date of sale of the tax lien certificate, unless a property is deemed to be vacant and abandoned. The lien holder may secure private counsel to initiate foreclosure or utilize the County Prosecuting Attorney Office to prosecute the foreclosure actions.

The prosecuting attorney may charge the tax lien certificate holder a fee to cover the cost of prosecuting the foreclosure action. The fee may change from year to year.

Purchase of Subsequent Delinquent Taxes (Sub-Buys)

The purchaser of a tax lien certificate shall have the right to purchase the lien on all subsequent delinquent taxes on any parcel for which the purchaser holds a tax lien certificate. The interest rate on a tax certificate for subsequent delinquent taxes is 18% simple interest.

Communications with the Taxpayers

The relationship between the tax lien certificate holder and the Treasurer's Office is very important to the success of this tax lien sale program. It is the Treasurer's goal that this program be executed with the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. Ohio Revised Code Section 5721.43 prohibits tax lien purchasers or their agent(s) from initiating contact with the owner of a tax certificate parcel to encourage or demand payment during the first month following the purchase of the certificate. In addition, written correspondence is requested for review by the Treasurer's office prior to being sent.