Mayor Vincent Gray has initiated a few more actions in response to the Washington Post’s recent exposé which revealed a predatory tax lien sale system that resulted in city homeowners losing their houses over minor tax debts.

Late Friday, Gray ordered the cancellation of this year’s tax lien sales for owner-occupied homes that were not in foreclosure proceedings, and will be establishing a Real Property Tax Ombudsman to counsel residents who need assistance paying their debts and navigating the system.

Additionally, some city staffers have been directed to take a close look at all the pending foreclosures that are resulting from tax debts, and the mayor will be introducing legislation to make the process more fair. Among other things, the legislation will cap the legal fees that tax sale purchasers can collect at $2,200 and mandate greater outreach and introduce programs like payment plans to those whose properties are at risk of foreclosure due to unpaid tax bills.

From the press release:

“Last Sunday, when I first learned from a Washington Post article about the problem of vulnerable District homeowners losing their homes through tax-lien sales, I was appalled by the injustices cited and immediately began pursuing potential remedies,” Mayor Gray said. “The actions that Dr. Gandhi and I have taken today will ensure that, from this point forward, no District residents whose property has been sold at a tax-lien sale will be at risk of losing their homes through this process if they have extraordinary circumstances that warrant a re-examination of their cases.”

Canceling the sales will mean that the city will pay certain fees to the tax lien buyers,reported the Post, and the homeowners will still be required to pay their debts.

The Mayor’s office is now searching for an Ombudsman, and will introduce legislation when the Council session begins on Tuesday.