The City of St. John's plans to auction off 20 properties, with starting prices at just a fraction of their valued worth. 

Bidding starts later this month for houses and land in the city with overdue property taxes.

Coun. Danny Breen said the city only auctions commercial and rental properties — and not owner-occupied homes.

"Over time, when there's taxes accruing on the houses, they go through a process of collection which ultimately would end up in legal review through the courts," Breen told CBC News.

"And if it's still not able to be satisfied at that time, then it would proceed to auction." 

Breen said it takes roughly six years to get to the auction stage.

The properties range from empty lots, which some people have been using for parking, to abandoned homes. 

According to Breen, it's difficult to know what new buyers will do with these properties. 

Breen said neighbours might be interesting in scooping up a neighbouring property to expand their own lot. The land might also be used for infill housing or for parking.  

The city will determine what to do with any properties that do not get sold, following the Feb. 16 auction. 

A similar auction was held two years ago. 

With files from Mark Quinn