Client Alert: City Requires Applicants/Property Owners to Be Current On Real Estate Taxes Prior to Granting Zoning Board Relief


On January 1, 2011, the City of Philadelphia implemented a City Council Ordinance that requires Property Owners to be current with real estate taxes when filing appeals to the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) for a variances, use certificates, temporary use certificates, special use permits, or special exceptions.

Owner Obligations

To prove to the ZBA that the Property Owner is current with his taxes, he must now obtain a Certificate of Tax Clearance issued by the Department of Revenue and file it with the ZBA appeal. That Certificate request requires the submission of the Property Owner’s name, property address, Social Security Number, or Employer Identification Number (EIN). The Certificate is then attached to the appeal filed with the ZBA. 

Our office can apply on-line for the Certificate of Tax Clearance, receive it, and print it instantaneously, provided of course that the Property’s taxes are current. 

If the Property Owner owes real estate taxes, then to file the ZBA appeal he must either pay off the balance of his taxes to obtain the Certificate, or enter into a Payment Arrangement with the Department of Revenue and provide a copy of the Agreement.  

Tenant Obligations

If a tenant files the ZBA appeal, then the tenant must provide documentation showing that all if his real estate taxes are current or subject to a Payment Agreement, and that all taxes due on the owner’s property are not delinquent.  

Properties under Agreements of Sale

Where the Property is subject to a Purchase and Sale Agreement, it suffices for the Applicant, whether he is the Seller or the Buyer, to provide ZBA with a copy of the Purchase and Sale Agreement if the Agreement provides that the sale of the Property is contingent upon ZBA approval of the appeal.  

With those conditions met, the ZBA can hear the appeal and may conditionally approve the appeal requested relief if the case otherwise meets the substantive criteria for the ZBA granting the requested relief. The Applicant can submit written ZBA decision to the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) for the related Zoning Permit. However, L&I will not issue the Zoning Permit until the Applicant provides L&I with a Certificate of Tax Clearance for the Property. 

Properties Acquired from the City, Public Agency, or Non-Profit Entity

Where a homeowner or a non-profit entity acquired the Property directly from the City or a public agency, then that homeowner or non-project entity must show that all taxes are current after the date the Property was required.   

Please contact Ronald J. Patterson at (215) 569-4585 or for further information regarding this ZBA requirement.