Ground Rent Law Upheld by Court of Appeals

Scales of Justice flickr CC DonkeyHotey

A ground rent law was upheld by the Court of Appeals, meaning that ground rent owners can foreclose on a home and get the full amount of proceeds should the ground rent be in default.

According to an article by Timothy B. Wheeler and Jamie Smith-Hopkins in The Baltimore Sun,

“The Court of Appeals ruled that the law violated the rights of “ground-rent” owners by taking away their ability to seize and sell the homes of tenants who don’t pay, then keep the proceeds. Allowing owners to bring foreclosure proceedings instead was not a reasonable substitute, the court said.”

I have written about the ground rent law, and registry, and lawsuits over ground rent in Baltimore.

In 2007, a law was passed not allowing ground rent owners to seize properties, sell them, and then take the full proceeds from the house. In 2011, that was overturned. The ruling on 2/26/14 upheld the 2011 ruling, and states that 2007 law was taking away ground rent owners’ constitutional rights.

There are still those who are fighting this law, as homeowners who haven’t paid a few hundred dollars in ground rent could potentially lose their homes worth hundreds of thousands, with the ground rent owner getting the full value of the sale of the house.

I will keep following this as it continues to develop.

For now, you can read more about the ground rent decision in this Baltimore Sun article. It is very detailed and explains much more in depth what has happened, and what it entails.

If you have a Baltimore ground rent property, make sure to pay your ground rent. If you are not sure if you have a ground rent, you will need to check your deed!


A few of my past articles about ground rent in Baltimore:

March 2012:

October 2011:

September 2010:

June 2010:

June 2010:

Photo Courtesy of DonkeyHotey via Flickr CC

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  • Catherine May says:

    I have lived in my home for 43 yrs. I paid ground rent yearly of $90. The ground owner moved to Florida and passed, I continued to pay to the estate until 2002 thru his attorneys office. I deliberately stopped paying because I had never heard a word from the firm and figured the money I sent was going into there account. I was told a few years back that after 7 years and no notification from owners that the ground would be mind. Please help me figure this mess out!!!! Thank you

    • Marney Kirk says:

      Hi Catherine May, I sent you a private message. The safest thing to do would be to call an attorney to find out your rights and obligations. I have a title attorney who may be able to help. Please let me know if you would like his information.

  • Catherine May says:

    Its been over 12 yrs since I last paid ground rent of $90 yearly. I had been told that after 5 years of no notification from the owner or his attornies that the property legally becomes mind. Please help me figure this mess out, I am 70 yrs old and not getting any younger

    • Marney Kirk says:

      Hi Catherine, I sent you another message. You can contact an attorney who can help. David Kramer, who wrote a bit for a few of the above articles I posted, knows a bit about ground rents and ground rent laws. He would be a great person with whom to speak!

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