By Matthew A. Quick In light of the recent holding in the case of In re Application of the County Treasurer , No. 2-08-0570, one who is under contract to purchase real estate has an equitable interest sufficient to exercise tax redemption. The court noted:
A complete stranger to the property has no right to redeem, but section 21--345 of the Code does not require complete legal title in order to redeem. In re Application of the Cook County Treasurer, 185 Ill 2d 428, 433 (1998) (Loop Mortgage). A party seeking to redeem a property sold at a tax sale need have only an "undefined interest" in the property. People v Hess, 7 Ill 2d 192, 197 (1955). Courts have expanded the class of persons with a redeemable interest to include persons who have something less than legal title, record title, or interests of record. See, eg, Loop Mortgage, 185 Ill 2d at 432.
Courts have held that the following persons have possessed an interest sufficient to redeem: an equitable title holder under an agreement to convey (Franzen v Donichy, 9 Ill 2d 382 (1956)); a beneficial owner of stock owned by a dissolved corporation, even though the property was not listed as an asset in the dissolution of the corporation (People v Hess, 7 Ill 2d 192 (1955)); an adverse possessor (In re Application of DuPage County Collector, 98 Ill App 3d 950 (1981)); a person who had lived on the property for more than 30 years even though he was no longer a record title holder (In re Application of County Collector, 49 Ill App 3d 1048 (1977)); a neighbor who acted as an agent for a mortgagee (Purdy v CH Strong Elevator, Inc, 29 Ill App 3d 894 (1975)); an assignee of a beneficial interest in a land trust (In re Application of the County Treasurer, 16 Ill App 3d 385 (1973)); the executor of an estate (In re Application of the County Collector for Judgment & Sale against Lands & Lots Returned Delinquent for Nonpayment of General Taxes for the Year 1961 & Prior Years, 72 Ill App 2d 272 (1966)); and a grantee of an heir of a contract purchaser who received no deed (In re Application of the County Treasurer of Du Page County, Illinois, for Judgment & Sale of Real Estate for General Taxes for the Year 1960, 63 Ill App 2d 135 (1965)).
It makes no difference whether the purchaser under contract has closed on the property, the contract to purchase itself is sufficient to create an equitable interest (meeting the threshold of "undefined interest" as discussed above) in the property, thus allowing the purchaser under contract the right of redemption.