Baltimore residents begin 'extinguishing' ground rents on their land
Colleague Meredith Cohn, reporter and Picture of Health blogger, had a personal interest in the outcome of the mass registration required of Maryland ground rents -- one of them, specifically.
I'll let her tell her story:
Like so many people in Baltimore, when I bought a rowhouse I learned it came with a ground rent. It was a $60-a-year payment that I always feared wouldn’t get paid by my mortgage company. And even though the holder, a local real estate agent, could no longer take my house because of changes made by the General Assembly (following a Sun investigation), I still fretted about red tape and legal fees.
My husband and I contemplated buying it, but decided it wasn’t a good financial deal. So when a Sun entry on this blog reminded me that there was a ground rent registry and the deadline for holders to list their properties passed, I checked the tax assessor’s site for my address. To my utter surprise, there was nothing.
I figured my ground rent was created about a decade ago when the Realtor, then the rowhouse owner, renovated my house. I don’t know why he’d let it lapse. But I didn’t officially need a reason. I wrote to the state asking that the ground rent be extinguished -- based on instructions I found on this blog. A certificate came in the mail about two weeks later. Wednesday, I took it to the land records office in the courthouse and asked that it be attached to my deed. The clerk said he’d return the certificate by mail.
He said a number of people had been to the courthouse before me with their letters and their $40 (cash, FYI). All were happy to pay this one last time. And while I still am nowhere close to paying off my house, I feel a little more like I own my property.