General Assembly Session 2017

on November 17, 2017
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General Assembly Session 2017


Legislation addressing vacant, abandoned and blighted properties 

Delegate Marvin Holmes, as Chair of the Housing and Real Property Subcommittee, within The House Environment and Transportation Committee conducted multiple summer hearings on several topics related to foreclosures, vacant, abandoned and blighted properties.

Out of these conversations came the idea to conduct a study with counties and municipalities about the challenges they face related to “Zombie” properties (“Zombie properties” are homes that are stuck in limbo. A foreclosure has been initiated by a mortgage holder but it hasn’t been completed, so it’s a zombie because no one is taking care of it.”) In addition, Delegate Holmes held a study group on land banks, which turned out to be a broader conversation about vacant and abandoned properties.

From this summer study Delegate Holmes emerged with several pieces of legislation related to foreclosed and abandoned properties. Over the summer he worked with the Community Development Network of Maryland (CDN), Maryland Municipal League (MML) and Maryland Association of Counties (MACO) to conduct a study. In addition to MML, CDN and some of their member organizations, MACO brought in Dorchester County and the Maryland Bankers Association to be involved in the conversations. 

The results of that study and the conversations during the summer work groups, helped to construct the following pieces of legislation with Delegate Holmes as the primary sponsor:


HB1168 Land Bank Reform:  This legislation makes changes to the current Land Bank law to enable counties to create Land Banks for blight elimination purposes. The legislation includes enabling counties to release liens and for the Land Bank to self-fund. It also allows for properties that do not sell at tax sale to be given to the Land Bank.

Currently only municipalities are allowed to create land banks. Dorchester County and Prince George’s County have expressed interest in creating land banks. In the CDN/MACO/MML study, jurisdictions really wanted more tools for blight elimination. The Center for Community Progress has tools to assist in creating and sustaining land banks, CDN will pull them in to help with establishing land banks in jurisdictions that would like one.


HB1048 Foreclosed Property Registry changes:  This legislation adds a requirement that banks must file with the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) a notice of Foreclosure at the Order to Docket (OTD) stage of the foreclosure, rather than at the end of the foreclosure process. 

In the CDN/MML/MACO study, only 44% of the respondents said their county/municipality uses the Foreclosed Property Registry. Of those, 37% said it was not useful to them, mostly because the information about the property was entered at the end of the process (the foreclosure sale) and not earlier. Jurisdictions want more information sooner on which party is responsible for the maintenance of the property or who the jurisdiction is to bill for their work in maintaining the property.


HB954 Foreclosed Property Registry updates:  This legislation requires DLLR to create space in the registration for the secured party to update any information, and DLLR will give notice to the county/municipality who has signed up to use the registry, so that an authorized person, with the county/municipality, can log-in and see the update information.

The CND/MML/MACO study found that jurisdictions wanted to get updated information which may have changed from the initial registration period, which takes place 30 days after a foreclosure sale, to the final registration, which takes place 30 days after a deed transferring title has been recorded. This bill requires DLLR to promptly send a copy of the initial registration of a property with a Foreclosed Property Registry (FPR) to the county and, of appropriate, the

Municipal corporation and a notice of any updated information received by DLLR to the county and the municipal corporation.


HB702 Definition of vacant and abandoned property:  This legislation enables a secured party to seek permission from the court to expedite a foreclosure based on the specific definition of vacant and abandoned property in the legislation. This process is an addition to the current process established in the foreclosure law that says a municipality or county can provide a secured party with a certificate of vacancy and then the secured party can foreclose quicker. This legislation is being heavily amended by all parties.

The CDN/MML/MACO study found that each county and municipality uses different definitions of “vacant and abandoned” property. Creating one definition, statewide, could help counties and municipalities not only with foreclosed properties but also with other nuisance properties.


HB026 Notice of Foreclosure Sale and Postponement or Cancellation of Foreclosure Sale

This legislation was inspired by a constituent who received a foreclosure notice for the sale of her home and assumed that the sale was executed on the date and time as specified on the notice of foreclosure. Four years after vacating the home, she attempted to purchase another home. She was stunned to learn that she did not qualify for a new loan to purchase her new home because she was still the owner of record of the home that was scheduled for foreclosure four years prior. During discussions in our summer hearings we also learned that homeowners associations or condominium (HOA) were adversely affected by homes abandoned by homeowners, because they homeowners assumed the foreclosure sale had been ratified. These “Zombie” properties were left to be cared for by the bank’s service provider or the local jurisdiction. 

HB026 requires the person authorized to make a sale in an auction to foreclose, to notify the owner of record, and the HOA in the event of a postponement or cancellation of a sale to foreclose a mortgage or deed of trust.


HB07 Children with Elevated Blood Levels-Environmental Investigation: 

Over the past several decades we as a General Assembly have made great accomplishments in reducing lead poisoning in children resulting from lead paint in rental housing. Today, if a child tests positive for lead poisoning, it may not be the rental unit where they are living.

HB07 requires that the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) adopt regulations to establish procedures for conducting an environmental investigation to determine the source of lead exposure for children with elevated blood levels. We have heard reports nationwide where lead has been found in water pipes, soils in children’s play areas and in school buildings. This legislation would require MDE to locate the source. 

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