If you are considering purchasing a home in Baltimore, ground rent is a term you should become familiar with. This practice is unique to Baltimore and can cause huge headaches for homeowners (including the possibility of losing their home) if they don’t know what to expect. Learn all you need to know about ground rent in today’s blog.
What You Need to Know About Ground Rent in Baltimore
Ground rent is based on a 17th-century concept. It is used to describe the process when a homeowner buys only a physical building and not the land the building rests on. In a ground rent arrangement, homeowners must still pay rent on the land to the land’s owner.
Unfortunately, despite its antiquated roots this practice is still alive and well in Baltimore. For homeowners who don’t know about it, they can possibly lose their homes if they fail to pay the necessary annual fee.
When looking at Baltimore properties, be sure to check whether they are fee simple (meaning that you own both the land and the house outright, as most buyers expect) or ground rent (in which case you must continue to pay the owner a fee for the right to using their land). The fee is usually not very expensive, usually hovering around $100/year. The trouble comes when you fail to pay your ground rent. A process called “ejectment” can be invoked by the landowner which allows them to sue the homeowner for their failure to pay and it is possible that a judge will rule to award the home to the landowner as payment. While this process is fairly uncommon, it is incredibly important to be aware of whether or not you will need to pay ground rent on your property.
If you do fall in love with a property with ground rent, you may request to purchase it. Maryland laws require landowners to sell the rights to homeowners if they are requested to do so. The price is determined by multiplying the yearly ground rent fee by the redemption rate.
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