Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some common questions that we get asked here at The Daily Reporter. If you can’t find the answer you are looking for please call us at (614) 224-4835
Citizen Participation Notices allow the public the time and opportunity to respond to proposed government action. These notices also fulfill the requirement of “due process of law” found in Federal and State constitutions. Such notices include notices of public hearings, intentions to create new taxation or benefit zones, and publication of local budgets.
Business and Commerce Notices are related to government contracts and purchases. Such notices verify that the government is following the principles of equal opportunity and allow the public to verify that the government is not misusing taxpayers’ money.
Court Notices are prepared by non-governmental bodies. Notices to creditors, and claims on deceased’s estates serve as notification to the public and allow time to respond, object or assert a claim. Public notices requesting service by publication serves notice to the public of pending lawsuits where one or more party is unable to be contacted by mail or other methods. Public notices announcing the auction of foreclosed property by the sheriff provide notice to the public that real property is being sold at public auction and is available for purchase by any interested, qualified party.
Why do we need Public Notices?
America’s founders determined long ago that the public must have access to information concerning government activities and civil proceedings. Legal notices are published in newspapers to ensure this access and to safeguard the public’s right to know.
Newspapers are effective instruments because they function as a neutral third party and are objective in their publishing of legal notices. Notices published in newspapers are accessible by all segments of society, and they are easily archived for public record, confirming that notice was given. With an archived print notice, there is no question as to what information was given to the public; a printed notice cannot be deleted and replaced with a modified version.
Why are there different listing of Public Notices?
There are many listings in The Daily Reporter that are not under the “public notice” heading. What are these?
These listings consist of information that is public record, but the information does not necessarily come from, nor pertain to the courts as do public notices. Marriage licenses, real estate transfers, building permits, new corporations and even abstracts of lawsuits filed fall into the category of listings of public record.
The listings of public record are published as a service to the community because the provide details of transactions that can be essential to the daily workings of businesses and individuals who need to be aware of what is happening in the community: Who is going out of business, who is starting a new business that might compete with theirs, what new households might need their services – the information is as varied as its potential uses.
For its subscribers, The Daily Reporter even can send searchable, sortable databases of requested categories via e-mail. For information, contact the newspaper’s circulation department via email at Circulation or call us at (614) 228-6397.
IN FORECLOSURE OF MORTGAGE CASES
When a homeowner defaults on his or her mortgage, the lender files a complaint in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division. (This information is found in The Daily Reporter under Common Pleas Courts, Civil Division, New Cases) The court then sets a trial date. (This information is found in The Daily Reporter under Common Pleas Courts, Civil Division, Hearing Schedule)
Upon a trial date being set, the due diligence process begins with the Clerk of Courts sending letters to all defendants. The defendants consist of not only the borrower and the principle lender, but may include additional lenders with whom the homeowner has a second-mortgage or home equity loan, the Franklin County Treasurer who may be owed taxes, and any other parties with known involvement. This step is known as “service of process.”
After the parties have been notified, the court allows them a time period to provide an “answer” to the complaint. The homeowner can challenge the charges, saying he has indeed made his mortgage payments as per his agreement with the lender, or he may choose not to respond if he believes the facts presented are accurate. Also at this time, any other person who was not named as a defendant may choose to add his name to the case. This means that if a contractor, for example, had completed work for which he has not been paid, he essentially can add his name to the list of those who are owed money by the homeowner.
After a predetermined amount of time, whether there are changes to the original complaint or not, the Common Pleas judge will issue an order for foreclosure and for the real estate in question to be sold at auction
The attorney for the lender (or other entity that filed the complaint) will now file a praecipe with the court. This is a command for the sheriff to appraise, advertise and auction the property.
The sheriff’s department chooses three independent appraisers to separately evaluate the property. These individuals have no authority to enter the home, however, and therefore appraisals often are based only on an exterior inspection of the property. In advertising the property for sale, the sheriff’s department generally states whether the appraised value is based upon an exterior-only inspection.
After obtaining the three appraisals, the sheriff’s department will schedule the sale date of the property. He then will advertise the property in The Daily Reporter once a week for three consecutive weeks. (This information is found under Sheriff’s Sale in the Public Notice section of The Daily Reporter. The full notice of the sale will run on Tuesdays during this three-week period, and on Thursdays during those five weeks, a summary of the information can be found in The Daily Reporter under Abstract of Sheriff’s Sale. On the Thursday following the sale date, the results of the auction also will be published under Abstracts)
To comply with due process of the law, The Daily Reporter provides proof of publication to the Franklin County Clerk of Courts, for the court’s records, after the notice has been published for three consecutive weeks.
At this point, the sheriff can proceed with auctioning the property. The auction will be conducted at the Franklin County Courthouse, 373 S. High St., on the scheduled date. Interested bidders do not need to pre-register for the auction, but they must be prepared to meet the terms of sale as stated in the sheriff’s sale notice. Bidding generally starts at two-thirds of the appraised value, but specifications as to deposits and completion of sale vary greatly.
Any time up to the day of the scheduled sale, however, the sale can be withdrawn by the lender (plaintiff). There are many reasons for withdrawing a property from sale, but this happens most commonly when the homeowner files for personal bankruptcy (which suspends foreclosure action until the bankruptcy action is settled), when the homeowner arranges to sell the property on his own in advance of the sale, or when the homeowner makes arrangements for refinancing the property.
If the property is withdrawn, the homeowner may be responsible for covering the costs of the case and the case will be dismissed by either the plaintiff or a judge. It may be dismissed with or without prejudice. Dismissal with prejudice means the case never can be filed again, and dismissal without prejudice leaves open the possibility of bringing the suit again if the defendant does not follow through on the terms of the settlement. (If the case is withdrawn by a judge, the information is found under Decisions in The Daily Reporter)
If the property is sold at a sheriff’s sale, a judge will issue a decision confirming the sale and ordering the distribution of proceeds by the sheriff’s office. (This information is found under Decisions in The Daily Reporter) The sheriff will distribute the funds and issue a deed to the new owner of the property. (The notice will be found in The Daily Reporter under Common Pleas Court, Real Estate Transfers)
If the property is not sold at sheriff’s sale, but the case has not been settled, the property can be re-advertised for sale. This may happen numerous times if the terms of the sale are not met. The first time a property is re-advertised, it will contain wording that it is an “Alias Order of Sale.” If the property is re-advertised a second or third time (or more), it will contain wording that it is a “Pluries Order of Sale.” When there is need to re-advertise a property, the process begins as it did originally: with a three-time publication of the notice of the sale.
IN FORECLOSURE OF TAX LIEN CASES
If a property owner neglects, or chooses not to pay real estate taxes on his property, whether he still resides on the property or has abandoned it, the county treasurer will at some point make a decision to file a foreclosure of tax lien case to recover the delinquent property taxes. He will notify the county prosecutor, who will file a claim in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division on behalf of the county, against the property owner. (This information is found in The Daily Reporter under Common Pleas Courts, Civil Division, New Cases) The court then sets a trial date. (This information is found in The Daily Reporter under Common Pleas Courts, Civil Division, Hearing Schedule)
As in a foreclosure of mortgage case, parties with a financial interest will be served and will have an opportunity to respond to the court. In this type of sheriff’s sale, however, there are no independent appraisals, and bidding will start no lower than the amount of past-due property taxes owed to the county.
Foreclosure of Tax Lien Case notices are published in The Daily Reporter once a week for three consecutive weeks. (This information is found in the Public Notice section of The Daily Reporter, under Sheriff’s Sale of Real Estate, Treasurer’s Sale. The full notice of the sale will run on Tuesdays during this three-week period, and on Thursdays during those three weeks, a summary of the information can be found in The Daily Reporter under Abstract of Sheriff’s Sale . On the Thursday following the sale date, the results of the auction also will be published under Abstracts)
Some of the notices for this type of sale will include language that allows a subdivision that has an interest in the property to buy said property for the cost of the delinquent taxes if no outside bid is received on it. If the subdivision does not exercise its right to purchase the property, it will be re-advertised for sale. If the notice does not specify that the subdivision may purchase the property, it still can bid on the property as would any other potential buyer. If it chooses not to do so, the property will be re-advertised for sale. (Unlike with a foreclosure of mortgage case, however, the second and third notices will not be marked as Alias or Pluries.)
The successful bidder in a Treasurer’s Sale must pay a deposit amount determined by the prosecuting attorney’s office at the close of the auction. This amount will include the entire amount of taxes due as well as court costs and other related costs.
The term service by publication refers to serving a summons or other legal document in a lawsuit on a defendant by publishing the document in an advertisement in a newspaper of general circulation, such as The Daily Reporter.
Service by publication is used to give “constructive notice” to a defendant who is intentionally absent, in hiding, unknown (such as a possible descendant of a former landowner), or otherwise cannot be located, and only when allowed by a judge’s order based on a sworn declaration of the inability to find the defendant after other means (such as standard mail delivery, certified mail or process servers) have been exhausted.
Service by publication is commonly used in a divorce action to serve a spouse who has disappeared without leaving a forwarding address or to give notice to people who might have a right to object to a “quiet title” action to clear title to real property. In addition, it may be necessary in personal injury actions, foreclosures, breach of contracts, etc.
To begin the process, the attorney of the person who has initiated the legal action or complaint (the plaintiff) will file an affidavit with the clerk of courts requesting service by publication. The affidavit will specify that the plaintiff is requesting the defendant be served by notice of publication. If service by publication is necessary, a fee will be paid through the clerk of courts at the time of the request.
When the court has approved the request for publication of the notice, it will send a copy of the affidavit and the original complaint to The Daily Reporter in order for the newspaper’s staff to build a notice summarizing the two documents. The notice will then run once a week for six weeks, on the same day each week. (This information is found in The Daily Reporter under Public Notices.)
Generally, the notice will state that the defendant has 28 days after the last publication to respond to the complaint and the same amount of time he would have to respond to being served notice by traditional methods. If the defendant does not respond, the case can proceed through the normal course.