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Tim Wheeler | March 3, 2014
Lawmakers in Annapolis moved Monday night to take another look at Maryland's arcane ground-rent system only days after the state's highest court invalidated a key element of sweeping reforms enacted seven years ago. Emergency ground-rent bills were introduced in both House and Senate to, as one sponsor put it, "resurrect" some of the provisions of the law declared unconstitutional Wednesday by the Court of Appeals.  Since Colonial times, many...
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NEWS
Tim Wheeler | March 3, 2014
Lawmakers in Annapolis moved Monday night to take another look at Maryland's arcane ground-rent system only days after the state's highest court invalidated a key element of sweeping reforms enacted seven years ago. Emergency ground-rent bills were introduced in both House and Senate to, as one sponsor put it, "resurrect" some of the provisions of the law declared unconstitutional Wednesday by the Court of Appeals.  Since Colonial times, many...
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NEWS
November 5, 2011
The recent editorial "Fixing ground rent" (Oct. 27) reveals a common misconception about ground rents. The ground rent holder does not own the land on which a dwelling is located. The land is owned by the homeowner, but the land is subject to the ground rent established by a lease. The property owner is responsible for the care and maintenance of the land, because it is in fact his property. The owner of the ground rent is only entitled to receive the annual rent. Ground rent owners are in no way landlords.
NEWS
By Louise Vest | September 11, 2013
50 Years Ago Howard stars lineup "Former Lions try out for Green Terrors" "Three Howard High graduates have reported for practice with the Green Terrors of Western Maryland College.  Bob Waldorf, Director of Athletics at Western Maryland says Richard Huttle, who came out for end shows "good potential'.' Richard played end at Howard High. Dan Myers, a sophomore at the college also out for end. "Ed Kasemeyer, star quarterback at Howard, is one of the twenty freshman prospects for the spot on the college team.
NEWS
November 1, 2011
Know anyone who gets paid for doing nothing? Ground rent owners. These folks do nothing but claim their "booty" on a tax form. And it is all blessed by our politicians and lawyers. This could be solved if ground rent owners were required to be "landlords. " They should be responsible for any gases, rodent infestation, ground heaving or an old tree that falls on "my" house. How would you feel if you paid rent for your apartment, and the landlord had no legal responsibility for the upkeep of your pad?
NEWS
October 4, 2010
I must agree with the letter by April I. Smith (Readers respond, Oct. 1) when she says that "It would have been nice if the ... Sunpapers had seen fit to let readers know about the ground rent registry deadline before it was too late to save their property. " I heard nothing about this until it happened to be mentioned on a morning news show on September 29, 2010 on WYPR, the day before the deadline to mail the registration. Although I have only four such properties, which were part of my father's estate and produce very little return, I wholehearted agree that this seems to be the best kept legislative secret.
NEWS
October 29, 2011
The Sun's recent editorial regarding ground rents ("Fixing ground rent," Oct. 27) objects to the Maryland Court of Appeals finding that the legislature cannot just take property from ground rent owners. Of course, the legislation developed because of reporting by The Sun on abuses of the system by some in the past. However, you seem to feel that all current ground rent owners need to be punished because of this. Why is that? The government has data on who owns the ground rents, except their records are screwed up. My sister and I had a few properties turned over to us by a relative in 1992, and appropriate fees and paperwork were filed with Baltimore City.
NEWS
June 25, 2010
On Sunday, The Baltimore Sun resumed hunting its favorite paper tiger — ground rent owners. In "Ground rent redux" (June 20) you again decried ground rent ejectments. Yet, ejectment is yesterday's news. Despite the editorial's claim, our class action does not seek to revive ejectment, now three years extinct. Rather, we merely seek to protect property and contractual rights to collect ground rent. Here, the editorial is again misinformed, saying "Owners still have the ability to collect their rents."
BUSINESS
By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun | January 18, 2011
From the Real Estate Wonk blog: WA bunch of Maryland ground-rent owners were shocked when they discovered, too late, that they had to register their property by Sept. 29 of last year or it would cease to exist . One of those owners got a second surprise when he noticed that the state declared in its tax booklet -- incorrectly, as it happens -- that the deadline was September of this year. Colleague Andrea Siegel reports on that oopsie here here, which some ground-rent advocates say is adding to confusion about the law. Just after the actual deadline passed, I heard from about half a dozen people who say they didn't know and don't see why the state thought its occasional public notices were sufficient.
NEWS
June 15, 2011
As someone who pays ground rent I feel compelled to respond to the letter "In defense of ground rents" (June 11) by Benedict Frederick Jr.. Your newspaper's series on ground rents shed necessary light on who collects and why in a time when it serves no purpose. Mr. Frederick defends it as a way for a few to make an income through a "mortgage" system. But in reality, homeowners already have a mortgage. The sad truth is that ground rent collectors have found a loophole in the law that allows them to collect money for no good reason.
NEWS
By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun | April 5, 2013
Jesse S. Weinberg, who practiced law for seven decades and made a specialty of Baltimore's ground rents, died of respiratory failure March 20 at Sinai Hospital. The Pikesville resident was 94. Born in Baltimore and raised near Druid Hill Park on Lakeview Avenue, he was the son of Harry M. Weinberg, a haberdasher, and Minnie Needle Weinberg, a homemaker. According to an autobiographical sketch, he was born on his parents' 11th anniversary. He attended the old Robert E. Lee School, No. 49, and was a 1935 City College graduate.
BUSINESS
Jamie Smith Hopkins | April 16, 2012
A grab bag of housing-related legislation passed in the Maryland General Assembly's recently completed session. Here are the highlights: Homestead credit penalties ( HB 1081 ): Authorizes local governments to hit people with bigger penalties if they are found to be receiving a Homestead Property Tax Credit (or credits) they don't qualify for and "willfully misrepresented facts" to get the break. The homestead credit caps big tax increases as a result of property appreciation, but it is only for primary residences.
NEWS
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | March 1, 2012
The Maryland Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday that would require owners of ground rents to register them with the state before they could collect them. The measure is in response to a court decision overturning a law that attempted to minimize the financial harm to homeowners for unpaid ground rents. The legislation now goes to the House of Delegates, where a similar bill is awaiting a committee vote. Under the ground rent system, which is prevalent mostly in Baltimore, one person owns an interest in the land on which a house is built and another person owns the structure itself.
NEWS
The Baltimore Sun | January 26, 2012
WEATHER Today's forecast calls for cloudy skies with rain developing later and a high temperature around 50 degrees. It is expected to be rainy tonight with the temperature rising to around 54 degrees. TRAFFIC Check our updates for this morning's issues as you plan your commute. FROM LAST NIGHT... Five groups vie to run city rec centers : Two groups that submitted bids would charge significant monthly fees for after-school programs that have traditionally been free.
NEWS
By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun | January 25, 2012
A group of state legislators has proposed new ground rent rules that would prevent owners from collecting payments if they don't register properties with the state, an attempt to deal with an appeals court ruling that left an earlier registration law in limbo. Ground rent is a quirk in Maryland's property system that gives owners of the leases an interest in the land under tens of thousands of homes, largely in Baltimore. Homeowners must pay the ground rent, typically a modest amount — sometimes less than $25 a year.
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun | December 21, 2011
A second ground rent reform law has been invalidated, with an Anne Arundel County judge ruling that the 2007 law dealing with collection of overdue rents is unconstitutional because it tramples ground rent holders' property rights. The holding of ground rents is a property right protected by the state constitution, Judge Paul F. Harris Jr. said in his ruling filed Tuesday. Infringing on those rights made the new law invalid, he wrote, because the ground lease holders were not compensated for their financial losses.
NEWS
June 20, 2010
From fat-cat Wall Street financiers to oil-polluting energy companies like BP, nobody induces public rage quite like the unprincipled speculator who makes huge profits by brazenly running roughshod over the average citizen. Such purveyors of greed and their wanton disregard for others are easily spotted but not so easily deterred — they usually come armed with lawyers. Four years ago, two Baltimore Sun reporters identified this sort of behavior in a previously overlooked provision of ground rent, the arcane and loosely regulated system wherein homeowners lease the land on which their houses are built.
NEWS
By Michael Dresser, The Baltimore Sun | March 1, 2012
The Maryland Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday that would require owners of ground rents to register them with the state before they could collect them. The measure is in response to a court decision overturning a law that attempted to minimize the financial harm to homeowners for unpaid ground rents. The legislation now goes to the House of Delegates, where a similar bill is awaiting a committee vote. Under the ground rent system, which is prevalent mostly in Baltimore, one person owns an interest in the land on which a house is built and another person owns the structure itself.
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun | December 14, 2011
Attorneys for thousands of ground-rent holders told an Anne Arundel County judge Wednesday that a reform law tramples their property rights, particularly through a process that they say makes delinquent rent collection cost more than the rent payments are worth. Edward J. Meehan, representing the group seeking to have the ground-rent reform law eliminated, also asked Circuit Judge Paul F. Harris Jr. to rule that the now-defunct process of ejectment be protected. Ejectment let ground-rent holders take possession of the homes of people who failed to pay even small amounts of ground rent.
NEWS
By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun | November 11, 2011
Fells Point resident Andrew Newhouse is one of hundreds of homeowners who took advantage of a new law that allowed them to effectively cancel ground rents on land beneath their houses — a vestige of Colonial times that had led to some people losing properties over small unpaid sums. The software engineer paid $60 to file documents in the land records office of the Circuit Court clerk's office in Baltimore, hoping to rid himself of a legal tangle that could still snarl a home sale and that many homeowners continue to see as a nuisance.
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