Dear Mr. Azrael,
I own a ground rent on a property near Patterson Park in Baltimore City. The ground rent is delinquent for the year 2000. Also, the real estate taxes have not been paid for 2000/2001 and the property has been advertised for tax sale.
How does this affect me if the house is sold at tax sale. What interest can I charge on a delinquent ground rent payment?
Constance Silvestri Fallston
Dear Mrs. Silvestri,
The law relating to tax sales says that if a property is subject to a ground rent renewable forever (as are most Baltimore ground rents), only the leasehold interest and the improvements erected on the ground shall be sold under most circumstances.
This legal provision normally protects the ground rent owner, whose rights would not be affected by the tax sale. To protect your rights, you may want to notify the tax sale office in Baltimore City that the property is subject to a ground rent you own.
There is no special law or statute about interest on delinquent ground rent. Without such a provision, you probably only can charge the "legal rate" of interest - 6 percent a year. You can sue the leasehold owner in District Court for the amount of back ground rent. A judgment against the owner will bear interest at 10 percent a year.
The ground rent owner also can file a lawsuit for "ejectment" if the ground rent is at least six months in arrears. If the ejectment suit is successful, the ground rent owner can repossess the leasehold interest in the property. The ground rent owner can wind up owning the property free and clear of the claims of others.