January 30, 2008
In 2003, the Maryland General Assembly changed the laws regarding attorney's fees charged in tax-sale foreclosure cases. The previous standard, a maximum of $400 under any circumstances, was changed to a "reasonable attorney fee" standard as long as a lawsuit has been filed. This was an attempt to compensate attorneys for their time and expertise in matters that were both tedious and technical, and whose time was worth more than the $400 cap that had been in place since 1985. Before the change, there were about 500 tax-sale lawsuits in Baltimore annually.
March 16, 2012
Haven't paid your city property taxes? Then you're on the city's list of owners whose properties could end up in tax sale this May, along with nearly 27,000 others who (as of last week) were behind on taxes, water bills or other city tabs. That's more than 10 percent of city properties, located in neighborhoods as varied as Poppleton and the Inner Harbor . If previous years are any judge, many owners will pay up quickly and avoid tax sale altogether. Here's an interactive map that shows where all the properties are. You can click on the dots for more details, including the address, who owns and how much the city says they owe. (Keep in mind that some may have paid already -- and at least one is an error .)
March 9, 2003
A reader asks when and where tax sales are held in Baltimore City and county. He wants to know how to buy a property at a tax sale. Dear reader: Taxes and other public charges are liens on real property. When the liens become delinquent, Baltimore City and Maryland counties are authorized to sell the tax liens at public auction to the highest bidder. The purchaser at a tax sale pays the lien and receives a tax sale certificate. The owner of the property has six months to redeem the property by reimbursing the purchaser the amount of the liens paid, plus interest.
March 25, 2012
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young came to an important accomodation Friday in their standoff about tax sales over unpaid water bills. The mayor was probably right that the two-year moratorium on tax sales Mr. Young had proposed endangered the city's bond rating, but Mr. Young was right to stand firm on the principle that no one should risk losing a home based on an estimated water bill. Now the mayor has agreed to send to tax sale only properties for which the unpaid bills are based on acutal meter readings, and that is progress.
May 22, 2012
Nearly 27,000 city properties in March were in danger of going to tax sale, but ultimately about 10,600 had liens included in the auction Monday. Investors bought 6,545 of the lien certificates , which raised $20 million for the city, according to the Finance Department. It's not unusual for property owners to pay up in April, just before the annual spring tax sale. But one of the narrowest misses this year was a case in which the homeowner paid last month -- after she learned that the state had retroactively reduced a tax credit on her property -- and the city lost the check.
April 2, 2012
Whether estimated, misread, misrecorded, or just plain mistaken, no erroneous water bill should send any properties to tax sale ("Tax sale timeout," March 25). In its City Council testimony of March 21, the Public Works and Finance departments pledged to investigate all 2,300 pending tax sales occasioned by water bill liens and to provide documentation of their property-by-property findings of accuracy or error before the April 30 tax sale deadline. Based on these findings, fairness dictates that all categories of questionable water liens must exempt properties from being sold to May 2012 tax sale investors.