No right to fight changes


October 04, 1998

Dear Mr. Azrael:

What action can a ground rent owner take when the city demolishes rows of houses?

Irwin Elliott


Dear Mr. Elliott:

A ground rent owner has no control over what happens to the improvements (houses or other structures) built on the ground. The owner of the leasehold can choose to construct a Taj Mahal or allow the building to become vacant and boarded up -- or even demolished.

A ground rent owner has one right only -- to collect the ground rent from the person or entity who owns the leasehold. If the ground rent is not paid, the owner of the ground rent has legal remedies. We've discussed these remedies in past Mailbag columns.

You need to find out who owns the leasehold, and therefore, who is responsible for paying your ground rent. Since the city demolished the houses, perhaps the city acquired the leasehold properties it owns, even if the buildings on those lots have been torn down. For your sake I hope this is the case, because the land itself may not be worth very much.


The Sun invites you to send real estate questions to Mailbag. Questions are answered by Jonathan A. Azrael of Azrael, Gann and Franz of Towson. Questions -- including name, address and daytime telephone number -- may be sent in the following ways:

Mailing address: Real Estate Mailbag, Fifth Floor, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278-0001. Fax: 410-783-2517. E-mail:

Our Sundial audio-response number: 410-783-1800. Enter code 6170 after the greeting.

Pub Date: 10/04/98

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