Amid Abuse, Maryland May Ban 'Ground Rents'

A bill is being pushed forward in Maryland that would ban all new "ground rents" -- a housing ownership situation in which one owner owns a house and another owns the land beneath the house. Some say the system is being used in a "predatory" way.

"'The ground rent system is obviously very broken,' State House Speaker Michael E. Busch said yesterday in a statement. 'It is incumbent upon the legislature to protect the residents and their property across Maryland.'"

"The proposed emergency bill follows an investigative series in The Sun last month that documented how a few of the largest ground rent owners in Baltimore City have used state laws rooted in Colonial practices to seize homes or charge homeowners thousands of dollars in fees over delinquent bills as small as $24."

"The emergency legislation, which is co-sponsored by the governor's office, seeks to end a relatively recent practice by some investors and rehabbers of putting new ground rents on properties that are sold after undergoing renovations. A ground rent runs for 99 years and is renewable forever unless bought out by the homeowner."

Full Story: Ground rent bill expected to pass


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