New York Tax Sale Records - 2 New Methods to Get Them

New York Tax Sale Records Not Covered by Privacy Provision?

It looks like we have found not one, but TWO new ways to attack the New York Tax Sale Records "problem". What's the problem? New York's Freedom of Information Act contains a privacy provision that allowed the counties to withhold records from you if you were using them to do any kind of business.

Here's how they try to stop you from getting New York tax sale records:

This statement is part of New York's Freedom of Information Act:

New York Freedom of Information and Privacy

'An agency may require a person requesting lists of names and addresses to provide a written certification that such person will not use such lists of names and addresses for solicitation or fund-raising purposes and will not sell, give or otherwise make available such lists of names and addresses to any other person for the purpose of allowing that person to use such lists of names and addresses for solicitation or fund-raising purposes.'

As soon as some counties get your request, they send you a scary form that you must sign, stating that you will not use the information for solicitation or fund raising.

Now, I think there could be some debate on whether we're "soliciting" or not - we're offering to buy something (the owner's property), not trying to sell the owner something.

BUT, let's not take that route. The word "solicitation" is open to interpretation and could possibly cover our activities. We don't want to sign an affidavit and possibly get ourselves in trouble later.

How to Get New York Tax Sale Records Safely

There are two ways to get the records in full compliance of the law, as far as I'm concerned. I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. These are simply 2 logical approaches to the situation:

Method 1: Don't request a list of "names and addresses"!

Re-read the statement in the box above. The agency can require you to sign that form if you request a "list of names and addresses". So don't request a list containing any names!

Request property ID, property address, owner's mailing address, taxes owed, and anything else you'd like to know, but clearly state that you do not require a list containing ANY names! Therefore you are not requesting a list of names and addresses, and not subject to the requirement.

Just send postcards to the property address and the owner's mailing address, if different, and use "Resident" for the name. You will get returned mail from vacant properties. You will get some returned mail from owner addresses. You will get calls (especially since you're probably the only one with the New York list!).

Save your returned mail, and get the owner names some other way. Find an information broker online, or even just look up the properties individually online.  By now you've weeded them down to only the most interesting.  Make sure you're not violating any terms of the county website by doing this.

Method 2: Real estate records are exempt!!!

I don't know if this is a new development in the law, but I just found this recently:

Real Estate Records Exempt

'Unless otherwise provided by this article, disclosure shall not be construed to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy pursuant to paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subdivision:

iv. when a record or group of records relates to the right, title or interest in real property, or relates to the inventory, status or characteristics of real property, in which case disclosure and providing copies of such record or group of records shall not be deemed an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.'

Sounds pretty clear, doesn't it?

The Challenge

Let's settle this issue once and for all!  Make a public records request to a New York county for the tax delinquent records you want.  If they force you to sign a form, respond and cite both tactics above.

I'm looking for someone to overcome the county's roadblocks using one or both of these techniques.

The New York Tax Sale Records Challenge

Update: We have our first winner (see below) - but I'm giving away another copy of my course if you use Suggestion #2 to overcome a rejected request

Be the first for any New York County to send me copies of all paperwork you used to get your request (either omitting names, or providing the real estate exemption above), along with the county's response and successful outcome, and you'll get my $997 course, 'Free and Clear Foreclosures', free! Course Details HERE.

Just email everything to

Got any experiences with New York tax sale records and the counties who like to protect them so much?  

admin May 26, 2011 at 5:51 am

Stephen and everyone else - we will have this corrected within a few hours. Thanks for your patience.

Roxanne May 29, 2011 at 12:41 am

i came across a list for new york city's upcoming sale coming up in August. it has all the details but I can't find anything for Niagara County.  

Rick Dawson June 2, 2011 at 12:50 am

Is Niagara County part of New York City?  Assuming not, call their tax collector. 
Also, using the information above, contact the county and get lists of the tax liens that were sold in the past and not yet redeemed.

Jim July 9, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Niagara County is about as far away from NY City as you can get, and still be in NY.

It is up on the Canadian Border past Rochester - including Niagara Falls.

Start at and go on digging up the tax assesor.

Good Luck!!!!!

Marty August 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm

hello how did you get New Yorks Auctions list. i went downtown late yesturday totry to get list but they wouldnt really do anything cause we had a Earthquake. so im going down town to tax building again and try..i would like to go to a first Auction to see how it all goes down . please im not bidding have no money but would like to see list if you can send me a copy. or better if you dont want to send how did you get list thank you

Rick Dawson August 28, 2011 at 9:33 pm

You should probably request it with a public records request, using the suggestions above if rejected.

Rick Dawson June 2, 2011 at 3:49 am

Question by Email:  About a year ago I was entering another tax sale website, and
somehow an advertisement of an off-site page reference came up about Deed
Grabbing.That was the first time I ever heard of the subject. After
reading it I was impressed I down loaded your E book and have been
studying it every since.


I also read Bryan Wittenmyer's book, I found it to be a very good
book as well.  But the information in your book is much more centralized
and intense. I believe that an idea can leap over any boundary.  What
would happen if someone signed a freedom of information request and it
was later found out that the list was used for solicitation
purposes,what would be the penalty?   If you have the answer to that
question, or any more I N F O on the subject please keep me
posted.       THANKS

Rick Dawson June 2, 2011 at 3:50 am

You know, you probably don't want to find out what the penalty would be - I'd get to the bottom of it upfront.

I'd use the two methods above, and let us know what roadblocks you hit, we'll help.  If you're the first to show a complete path to getting your records, you get the prize!

mark June 21, 2011 at 7:35 pm

Re: getting NY name and address info.

If the NY county's CAD data tables are available for download online, you may be able to get delinquent tax records without creating suspicion ... providing you know something about linking tables in Access ...

Request the delinquent tax info WITHOUT any name and address. Just ask for the account no. to be included.

You can then cross reference this number against the county CAD table ... to provide the owner name and address along with all other info about any particular property.

Rick Dawson June 27, 2011 at 10:01 am

Awesome hint, Mark! If you could get that to work in a particular county, I'd love for you to do a guest post with a little more detail.

rohnn June 29, 2011 at 10:13 pm

I just got a list from Orange County New York. They wanted me to sign their non solicitation/fund raising certificate. I pointed out I was not asking for names and they provided the list!

dan January 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Did you have to physically have to go to the OC govt building for the list, or did they give you the information via email? Can tax SALE overages be claimed in NY COUNTIES?

Rick Dawson January 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm

You should be able to get most lists by mail and email. NY does not have tax sale overages.

Rick Dawson June 29, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Congratulations, Rohnn Kostelecky!

Rohnn was the first to use one of the suggestions above to overcome a rejected public records request, and he provided the full transcript of his emails with the county - so he wins a free copy of my $997 "Free and Clear Foreclosures" course.

I'll post everything shortly. Rohnn used suggestion #1 to get his list - he modified his request so as not to request "a list of names and email addresses - just property info, please".

I'll give away another copy of the course to anyone successfully using suggestion #2 to obtain their list.

Great job, Rohnn!

Robert Weichert July 8, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Onondaga County, NY,advertises delinquent properties for sale of a tax sale certificate, which you hold under some 1937 County Law for two or three years, and after timely mailing of a notice of redemption, you may apply to the County for a tax deed. However, the Onondaga County treasurer refuses to sell anyone, except the County, that tax sale cerificate. How do you get around that?

Rick Dawson July 8, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I'm not really sure, but I'm not looking to buy the tax sale certificate.

As long as the clock starts ticking somehow, whether the county "buys" all the certificates or they sell them to an institution, I just want access to these records so I can start contacting the homeowners.

Daniel Ng December 21, 2011 at 9:54 pm

I can only suggest that you contact the Chief Fiscal Officer, who is responsible for collection of taxes and other revenues, the custody and disbursement of all public funds of the County, and for the issuance of bonds, bond anticipation notes, and other financial offerings as provided for in the State Local Finance Law.
That's my 2 cents on Onondaga County, NY.

Rick Dawson December 23, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I think that the sale of tax certificates to the county is a technicality, a process that leads up to the public deed sale. And the process during which you may wish to insert yourself.

Daniel Ng December 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm

I'm emailing you information for challenge #2. Your posting above does not have a start and end date on the challenge and I've gone from sending emails to phone calls and finally to showing up face-to-face to ask for the information.

Rick Dawson December 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I've given one prize out to Ron, and the other is still available as of today, 12/23/11. I'll post when the second prize is won.

Rick Dawson December 23, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Congratulations to Daniel Ng, the winner of our second Free and Clear Foreclosures course. I've asked him to post below about his experience which was most interesting, and shows that if you stick with it, trying to work with different people at a county, you will often find someone cooperative, even helpful. Surprisingly, sometimes the "bigwigs" (if you can get to them) are more helpful and friendly than the lower-level employees

Daniel Ng December 23, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Rick, This was an awesome challenge. Although I don't live in New York, I got more out of it than expected. I contacted various counties in New York State and cited the New York Freedom of Information Act §89 in my correspondence (which was part of the 2nd challenge). Citing the law to the persons on the phone made it seem like I had the authority of law to get past the barriers. These clerks do have a lot of questions such as why I want it, what I will do with the information, etc but none asked me to sign a document before providing information. Today I went to the county clerk's office in New York City and got to speak with the public administrator for the City of New York.

Here a little tidbit: The New York City tax liens are posted on the city website but just prior to the sheriff's office publishing the information in a general circulation newspaper on tax deed foreclosures, a search can be done in the courthouse for In Rem Foreclosure Actions, not Tax Deed Sales or UCC filings. The guy showed me how to look for the records I want along with how to interpret the categories.

Look for type 1 or 2 and forget about type 3 and 4 properties.

The types are:

#1 Residential - A conveyance of, or the transfer of, an economic interest in:

* a one- to three-family house;
* an individual residential condominium unit; or
* an individual cooperative apartment.

#2 Residential - A grant, assignment, or surrender of, or the transfer of an economic interest in a leasehold interest in

* a one- to three-family house or
* an individual dwelling unit in a home of more than three families living independently of each other.

#3 Commercial - Warehouse and Construction sites

#4 Commercial - Factories
That's the adventure I had for the last couple of days. I hope my experience and the information I've received will help others to get past the bureaucracy. Thanks for posting this challenge.

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