Q&A: Flat rate for sheriff’s sale notices


From Dearborn County Register (Lawrenceburg):

Q: The sheriff’s department has asked the newspaper to consider charging a flat rate for sheriff’s sale (mortgage foreclosure) notices. The department says it’s being done in other counties. Can this be done legally?

A: Yes. I know of several newspapers that have examined the notices they’ve received to come up with an average cost for sheriff’s sale notices.

The difference in the notices rests with the property descriptions, which can be brief or long. The newspapers determine an average and then generally add a little to that amount to make sure they finish in the black at the end of the year.

The system generally makes everyone happy because the sheriff or attorneys preparing the notice have certainty as to the cost and can pre-pay because they don’t have to wait for the newspaper to apply its line rate to determine the cost.

The public-notice advertising cap set by the legislature on public notices for local and state government doesn’t apply to sheriff’s sale notices because the ultimate person responsible for the cost is the property purchaser, not the taxpayer.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.