Each state has different laws for how delinquent tax sales and liens are done.
"New Jersey law requires all 566 municipalities to hold at least one tax sale per year, if the municipality has delinquent property taxes and/or municipal charges. You can obtain information on upcoming tax sales by contacting the tax collector in the municipality in question, or from the web site of the Tax Collectors & Treasurers Association of New Jersey: www.tctanj.org/taxsale.html. More detailed information on the tax sale process in New Jersey can be found at www.njtaxlieninvestor.com
In New Jersey, property taxes are a continuous lien on the real estate. Property taxes are due in four installments during the year: February 1, May 1, August 1, and November 1. Delinquency on a property may accrue interest at up to 8 per cent for the first $1,500 due, and 18 per cent for any amount over $1,500. If the amount of delinquency on a property exceeds $10,000 at the end of the municipal fiscal year, the municipality may charge up to a 6 per cent year penalty.
At the tax sale, title to the delinquent property itself is not sold.
What is sold is a tax sale certificate, a lien on the property."
So it is not that a sale does not happen unless the balance is $10,000 but that a penalty can be applied on that amount of tax due. The sale can happen after one year (though it is not clear if the locality has a choice of exactly when, to me).
What all happens to your credit is somewhat beyond my expertise, but the lien does have to be recorded by the purchaser. Whether or not, and when, that will be reported to the credit agencies is not clear. The lien is on the property and not on all of your other property like an income tax lien. That means it may not have much impact or may not even get on your individual credit report.
"Redeeming Tax Sale Certificates
Once a lien has been placed on a parcel, the only persons able to redeem that lien are the owner, his/her heirs, the holder or a prior outstanding tax lien certificate, mortgage, or legal occupant of property sold at a tax sale; and may only redeem until the right to redeem has been cut off.
Payment to redeem a lien must be made in full by cash or certified funds, to the tax collector's office. Once the redemption has occurred; the tax collector will notify the lien holder of payment. They will return the original certificate back to the collector endorsed for cancellation. Upon receipt of the cancelled certificate, the redemption funds will be released to the lien holder.
When the collector receives this cancelled certificate they will send it to the party that redeemed the lien. It is their responsibility to have this lien removed from the property at the county office.
If a lien that has been sold to outside bidder is not redeemed within 2 years from the date of sale, that bidder now has the right to begin foreclosure proceedings.
If a lien that has been struck off to the municipality is not paid, the municipality has the right to an In Rem Foreclosure 6 months after the date of sale."
The best source of more detailed information is the county or city tax collector of the location of the rental property. They can tell you more precisely when in the year each part of the process occurs.
Please ask if you need more discussion or clarification.