Offer to pay redemption price must be actually made
To redeem a tax deed, the redeeming party much actually tender the redemption price and offer to pay the required sum. It is not enough to claim a “willingness” to pay, or claim that tender was “futile” because the tax deed holder expressed that it believed the redeeming party had no right to redeem and that a tender would be refused.
The Georgia Court of Appeals recently reiterated this rule in the case of Strong v JWM Holdings, LLC, 341 Ga.App. 309, 800 S.E.2d 380 (2017). In Strong, JWM Holdings held a tax deed and Strong wanted to redeem. JWM’s attorney provided the redemption price but “stated that JWM would reject any tender of the redemption price by Strong ‘or any other person who does not have the legal right to redeem.’” Strong failed to tender the redemption price anyhow, and instead filed a lawsuit regarding the issue.
The Court of Appeals cited many principles regarding redemption from the Community Renewal & Redemption v. Nix, 288 Ga. 439, 440 (1), 704 S.E.2d 759 (2011) decision. However, it focused on the bright-line rule that a tender must be made, and that Strong had failed to tender. The relevant holding is as follows:
Although JWM’s attorney indicated that actual tender of the redemption price would be refused, there is no evidence of any pre-suit communications on behalf of either estate that included an actual, present bona fide offer to pay the redemption price that had been provided by JWM’s attorney. Moreover, Strong’s counsel conceded that Strong did not have the money to pay the redemption price and had not obtained the probate court’s approval to seek redemption of the Property on the estates’ behalf. Strong likewise admitted in her deposition that the estates did not have the cash to pay the redemption price and that the money would have to be raised from other family members.
Under these circumstances, there is simply no evidence of record demonstrating an actual, present bona fide offer on behalf of the estates to pay the redemption price before suit was filed, and, therefore, the trial court committed no error in granting summary judgment to JWM on Strong’s claims. Although the statements of JWM’s attorney might have excused a subsequent failure by the estates to make an actual tender of the redemption price, “none of [the attorney’s] statements or conduct can justify [Strong’s] failure even to make [JWM’s attorney] an initial offer of a tender” of that price.