Tagged: law

Behind on Your Water Bill or Property Taxes?

Don’t let your home go to auction — there is legal help available!

The Pro-Bono Resource Center of Maryland, along with MVLS, is holding three community workshops where lawyers will discuss both foreclosure and tax sales. If you’re behind on your water bill or property tax, don’t wait until it’s too late — find out what your rights are, and what options you have.  There are three sessions:

  • March 21, 2015, 9 AM to 3 PM
  • Poly-Western High School, 1400 W Cold Spring Lane, Baltimore, MD 21209
  • April 9, 2015, 10 AM to 2 PM
  • Urban Business Center, 1200 W Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21223
  • April 15, 2015, 3 PM to 7 PM
  • Enoch Pratt Library, Southeast Anchor Branch, 3601 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224

For more information, and to register for the workshops, please call 443-703-3052.

Rent Court Workshops

Recent changes have been made to Maryland law regarding lead paint certificates, and landlord licensing and evictions.  Two workshops will be held in order to tenants and other interested parties to learn more about the changes, and also general landlord-tenant law.  Representatives from Baltimore Housing, the Public Justice Center, and the Maryland Multi-Housing Association will be on hand to answer questions.

The workshops will be held on November 14 and December 10, both at 12:15 PM at the District Court building, 500 Fayette Street, First Floor.

Both workshops are free.

Another Tool to Fight Against Blight

From the Community Law Center:

Owners of abandoned properties in Baltimore City should start bringing their properties up to code, or the local community association might sue them to do just that. Today, the revised law known as the Community Bill of Rights, goes into effect. This amended legislation makes it easier for community organizations to use the law that has been unused but on the books for 15 years.

The revised law allows for community organizations to pursue code enforcement violations to reduce nuisances in their own neighborhoods. Community associations are empowered to address problem properties by filing a private legal action against the property owner. Owners could be forced by a Circuit Court order to correct the problems with their properties that are causing a nuisance in the neighborhood.

You can download a copy of the amended law here. Link opens a PDF.

Why this is important: Some property owners will not act, unless forced to by a court — this gives community members the ability to be proactive and take action against these property owners, hopefully ridding neighborhoods of blighted properties.

The only sticking point for me — some neighborhoods don’t have community associations — not official 501(c)(3) organizations.  And while the process to become a (c)(3) organization is not difficult, it is time consuming.  Some communities may be left out.  We’d like to see the Community Bill of Rights eventually expanded to include non-(c)(3) organizations, so neighbors can band together and take their communities back from slumlords, regardless of whether they have “official” status or not.

Link Roundup

It will be interesting to see how much money is earned on the auction of Baltimore Housing Authority property.  Glad to see someone is fighting to make the agency pay its lead paint settlements.

It’s always fun to read posts or letters in the Baltimore Sun from bad property owners who feel the laws and regulations are unfair.  Perhaps doing the right thing would make things more fair?  Just a suggestion.  And for the record, no, we don’t think the City should be using funds for affordable housing to demolish…housing.

A man in Cleveland decided to shoot a documentary about abandoned homes in that city, as a way to create awareness about the problem.

Apparently, people in Monterey County, California can’t agree on what “homeless” means. I didn’t know there were any grey areas.

The town council of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, is smarter than the Baltimore City government.  “A significant relationship exists between vacant buildings and increased calls for service for police services, higher incidence of fires …”  Wish someone in our City Council would publicly say that, and do something about it.

An Ohio Senator wants banks to stop walking away from foreclosures.  Do any Maryland senators want the same?

Everyone Has One…

Just like the crazy uncle everyone shuns at family gatherings…every neighborhood has “that house”.  The one with people coming and going at all hours of the day and night, the one where all the police activity seems to happen — you know the one I’m talking about — it’s the Community Nuisance.

Did you know you and your neighbors have a tool available to get rid of the nuisance house?  It’s called the Drug Nuisance Abatement Law, and every community association, homeowners association, etc. should familiarize themselves with this law and how to use it in your fight to keep your neighborhoods safe.

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll spotlight groups/neighborhoods that have used this law effectively, to rid their communities of drug-infested houses — and the people who lived in them. In the meantime, here’s an article from WBAL (2007) that shows what can be accomplished when a neighborhood demands more of its government, and refuses to allow crime to take over

Legislative Wins and Losses

Better late than never — here are the bills we were watching in the 2011 legislative session, and what happened after all was said and done:

SB 503:  Foreclosure Purchaser and Tenant – Evictions – Tenant’s Right to Reclaim Personal Property:  FAILED

HB 179/SB 111:  Environment – Recycling – Apartment Buildings and Condominiums – FAILED

SB 762:  Property Tax Assessments – Physical Inspection of Property FAILED

HB 268:  Board of Liquor License Commissioners for Baltimore City – Ethics, Open Meetings, and Performance Audit PASSED

SB 488: Baltimore City – Alcoholic Beverages – Class B-D-7 License Holders – Security Plan  PASSED

SB 645:  Baltimore City – Sale of Property to Enforce Lien for Water and Sewer Service PASSED

HB 8: Eminnent Domain – Condemnation Proceedings and Limitation on Condemnation Authority FAILED

SB 620 / HB 670:  Real Property – Retaliatory Actions – Landlords and Mobile Home Park Owners PASSED

HB 284: Real Property – Residential Leases – Security Deposits – Interest Rates PASSED

SB 643: Human Relations – Housing Discrimination – Source of Income FAILED

News and Link Roundup

I came across this link from photographer Kevin Bauman and wanted to share it with our readers — 100 Abandoned Houses.  More art than advocacy, he manages to capture the downtrodden soul of these structures.  We’re also quite fond of Abandoned America.

Detroit mayor Dave Bing has promised to demolish 3,000 vacant structures before the end of 2010 — you can find the first 500 to be demolished by following this link.  Indianapolis has instituted a similar program.  A shame that Baltimore hasn’t followed suit.

From Baltimore Housing, a new carbon monoxide detector law went into effect March 1.  Hopefully Baltimore landlords paid attention.

Great news from the Maryland Court of Appeals:

The Maryland Court of Appeals found [March 23, 2010] in a 5-2 opinion in a lead paint case that an individual member of a Maryland limited liability corporation (LLC) can be personally liable for torts personally committed on behalf of the LLC.

You can read the Court opinion here. (Link opens a PDF).

Slumlords Harvey Nusbaum and Jack Stollof are to be sentenced in May for their participation in a tax sale bid-rigging scheme.