THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
Carl M. Durham, Respondent,
Financial Corporation, Third-Party Plaintiff/
Gloria Baker, Third-Party Defendant/
ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF
Appeal From Lexington County
Marc H. Westbrook, Judge
Opinion No. 24813
Heard May 27, 1998 - Filed July 13, 1998
Robert F. Fuller, of Columbia, for third-party
James Y. Becker, of Sinkler & Boyd, P.A., of
Columbia, for third-party plaintiff/respondent.
John O'Day, of Kirkland, Wilson, Moore, Allen,
Taylor & O'Day, P.A., of West Columbia, for
BURNETT, A.J.: This Court granted a writ of certiorari to
review the decision of the Court of Appeals holding the 30-day notice
period in S.C. Code Ann. § 12-49-300 (Supp. 1997) must be given before
the end of the redemption period. Durham v. United Companies Financial
Corp., 326 S.C. 403, 483 S.E.2d 786 (Ct. App. 1997). We reverse.
In 1988, respondent Carl M. Durham (Durham) purchased real
property located in West Columbia from third-party plaintiff/respondent
United Companies Financial Corporation (United). Durham gave United a
promissory note and mortgage. The mortgage permitted United to collect
a monthly escrow amount for payment of taxes.
The property taxes were not paid for the 1989 tax year. On
June 12, 1991, the Lexington County Treasurer-Tax Collector (County)
sent a notice to Durham stating the property had been seized for
delinquent property taxes.
County sold the property at a public auction tax sale to third-
party defendant/petitioner Gloria Baker (Baker) on October 7, 1991. On
August 26, 1992, County notified Durham the property had been sold and
informed him the redemption period ended on October 7, 1992. Durham
took no action.
On December 15, 1992, County mailed United a notice advising
the property had been sold for nonpayment of taxes. The notice stated, if
United wished to protect its interest in the property, payment of $1,032.10
must be received by January 15, 1993.1 United did not respond.
County delivered Baker the tax deed to the property on May 6,
1993. Baker assumed possession of the property.
Durham brought this action against United alleging breach of
the agreement to pay the property taxes. United filed a third-party
complaint against Baker claiming County failed to give it the statutorily
required 30-day notice before the end of the redemption period. Baker
asserted her title was valid and filed a cross-claim to quiet title.
The trial court concluded County gave proper notice to United,
even though the notice was given after the end of the redemption period.
United appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed, declaring the tax sale
and deed void. Id.
Did the Court of Appeals err by holding the 30-day notice
required by § 12-49-300 must be given during the redemption
The sale of the property of a defaulting taxpayer is governed
by statute. Osborne v. Vallentine, 196 S.C. 90, 12 S.E.2d 856 (1941); Von
Elbrecht v. Jacobs, 286 S.C. 240, 332 S.E.2d 568 (Ct. App. 1985). Chapter
51 of Title 12 establishes the following procedure.
After the county treasurer issues a tax execution against a
defaulting taxpayer, if the taxes remain unpaid for thirty days, a notice of
delinquent taxes is mailed to the owner of record. The notice must specify
that if the taxes, penalties, assessments, and costs are not paid, the
property will be advertised and sold to satisfy the delinquency. If the
taxes remain unpaid another thirty days, the execution officer takes
exclusive possession of so much of the property as is necessary to satisfy
the payment of taxes, penalties, assessments, and costs. Exclusive
possession is taken by mailing a notice of delinquent property taxes,
assessments, penalties, and costs to the defaulting taxpayer. S.C. Code
Ann. § 12-51-40 (Supp. 1997).
After a delinquent tax sale is held and the successful bidder
pays the bid amount, he is furnished with a receipt but does not obtain a
deed or title. S.C. Code Ann. § 12-51-60 (Supp. 1997). The defaulting
taxpayer, any mortgagee, or other interested party may redeem the item of
real estate by paying the delinquent taxes, assessments, penalties, costs,
and interest. The redemption provision states, in part, as follows:
The defaulting taxpayer, any grantee from the owner, or any .
mortgage or judgment creditor may within twelve months from
the date of the delinquent tax sale redeem each item of real
estate by paying to the person officially charged with the
collection of delinquent taxes, assessments, penalties, and costs,
together with eight percent interest on the whole amount of
the delinquent tax sale bid.
S.C. Code Ann. § 12-51-90 (Supp. 1997).
An additional notice of the tax sale must be given to the owner
of record between forty-five and twenty days prior to the end of the
redemption period. S.C. Code Ann. § 12-51-120 (Supp. 1997).
[u]pon failure of the defaulting taxpayer, any grantee from the
owner, or any mortgage or judgment creditor, to redeem realty
within the time period allowed for redemption, the person
officially charged with the collection of delinquent taxes shall
within thirty days or as soon thereafter as possible make a tax
title to the purchaser or the purchaser's assignee. Delivery of
the tax title to the clerk of court or register of deeds is
considered "putting the purchaser (or assignee) in possession."
S.C. Code Ann. § 12-51-130 (Supp. 1997).2
Chapter 49 contains the following provision:
When real estate is sold for taxes in a county, the sheriff,
before delivering the title to real estate to the purchaser at
such sale, shall give at least thirty days' notice of the sale to a
mortgagee appearing of record in order that the
mortgagee may have opportunity to redeem the real estate,
successful tax purchaser is notified to return the tax sales receipt. The
purchase price with interest is refunded to the tax purchaser. S.C. Code
Ann. § 12-51-100 (Supp. 1997).
as provided by law for the owner.
S.C. Code Ann. § 12-49-300 (Supp. 1997).
The Court of Appeals held the County's failure to give United
the notice required by § 12-49-300 within the redemption period violated
the statutory requirements relating to tax sales. The Court of Appeals
determined the notice must be given within the redemption period so that
the mortgagee has an opportunity to redeem the property within the one-
year period. Durham v. United Companies Financial Corp., supra. We
The cardinal rule of statutory construction is that the Court is
to ascertain and effectuate the actual intent of the legislature. Mid-State
Auto Auction of Lexington, Inc. v. Altman, 324 S.C. 65, 476 S.E.2d 690
(1996). In interpreting a statute, words must be given their plain and
ordinary meaning without resorting to subtle or forced construction to
limit or expand the statute's operation. Rowe v. Hyatt, 321 S.C. 366, 468
S.E.2d 649 (1996).
The notice provisions of Chapter 51 require notice of the tax
sale and redemption period be given to the defaulting taxpayer and the
owner of record, but do not require notice to the mortgagee. S.C. Code
Ann. § 12-51-40 and -120. Consequently, considering the tax sale
procedure as a whole, it is our opinion the purpose of § 12-49-300 is to
give mortgagee's notice of the tax sale and an opportunity to redeem the
Section 12-49-300 specifies thirty days' notice be given to the
mortgagee before the tax title is delivered to the purchaser in order that
the mortgagee have an opportunity to redeem the property. Contrary to
§ 12-51-120 which specifically requires notice be given during the
redemption period, the notice requirement of § 12-49-300 is not related to
the one-year redemption period. Instead, it requires the notice be given
thirty days before the tax title is delivered to the purchaser. By the plain
and unambiguous language of § 12-49-300, this notice could be given
before or after the end of the one-year redemption period in § 12-51-90.
In either event, a mortgagee has thirty days from the date of the notice
required by § 12-49-300 in which to redeem the property.
United suggests allowing the notice required by § 12-49-300 to
be provided after the redemption period is inconsistent with the phrase in
§ 12-49-300, "in order that the mortgagee . . . may have opportunity to
redeem such real estate, as provided by law for the owner." (Emphasis
added). It is our opinion, "as provided by law for the owner" is included in
§ 12-49-300 as acknowledgment of a mortgagee's substantive right to
redeem property, but is not meant to limit the redemption period to one
year from the tax sale.
Finally, United argues, pursuant to § 12-51-130, the successful
bidder's interest in the property vests at the close of the one-year
redemption period and, therefore, if the mortgagee redeemed the property
after this period, there would be a cloud on the successful bidder's title.
Section 12-51-130 only refers to the "time period allowed for redemption."
The time period allowed for redemption is not limited to the one-year
redemption period in § 12-51-90. In our opinion, the successful bidder's
interest in the property does not "vest" until after the redemption period
in § 12-51-90 and the expiration of the notice period required by § 12-49-
Accordingly, the opinion of the Court of Appeals is
FINNEY, C. J. , TOAL, MOORE and WALLER, JJ., concur.