A ground rent 'oops'
A 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, 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.
There were lots of news stories in 2007 when the General Assembly was changing ground-rent laws, one of which was about registration. But the three-year window to apply meant it fell off the radar until the very end. Some of the folks I talked to remembered the '07 hoopla but didn't catch on to the fact that the changes had implications for all ground-rent owners, not just the big investors whose aggressive tactics prompted a Baltimore Sun investigation.
One man didn't have the heart to tell his elderly mother that the bills she was carefully sending out had no legal standing anymore.
The idea of registration is to make it absolutely clear who owns each ground rent and how to contact them, something that title companies say has proved difficult in the past. So it seems like a useful idea, but it also seems a shame that some folks were in the dark. One suggested a do-over period. What do you think?