New laws affect homebuyers and homeowners

Two Maryland laws go into effect this month affect home buyers and home owners.

by Dan Krell
DanKrell.com
© 2012

homesTwo new laws that went into effect this month will have an effect on home buyers and home owners. One law affects home buyers purchasing foreclosed property, and the other is with regard to the Maryland homestead property tax credit.

First, H.B. 1373 Real Property – Foreclosed Property Registry, which went into effect October 1st, requires that Maryland homes purchased at a foreclosure sale be registered with the State of Maryland. According to the foreclosure registry website (www.dllr.state.md.us/ForeclosureRegistry/web/content/Home.aspx) a “foreclosure purchaser” must initially register a home within 30 days of the foreclosure sale, and a final registration within 30 days of the recordation of the deed. A “foreclosure purchaser” is defined by H.B. 1373 as being “…the person identified as the purchaser on the report of sale required by Maryland rule 14–305 for a foreclosure sale of residential property.”

You might wonder why a registration is necessary once a foreclosed home is purchased. The registry was an outgrowth of purchased foreclosed homes that remained vacant. Vacant homes are at risk for a variety of problems; and if left vacant and untended for long periods of time can not only become an eyesore, but can risk the health and safety of the immediate neighborhood. Trespassing and infestation is a major concern; the longer a home sits vacant and untended, the probability increases for vandalism, vermin, squatters, and gang activity.

The law is most likely aimed at lenders that purchase back their own foreclosure or bulk purchasers, because at one time it was possible that some of these homes sat untended for long periods of time. In the past, such homes might have been cited for health and safety code violations with the intent to have someone tend to the home. However, since ownership may not have been clear due to the foreclosure process or absence of a point of contact, some of these attempts went unheeded.

For more information or questions about the registry, contact the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (www.dllr.state.md.us).

The other law that went into effect this month is H.B. 1081 The Homestead Property Tax Credit Reform Act of 2012. The purpose of the law is to stop the abuse of applying the credit when not applicable. Home owners who are “caught” claiming multiple properties and/or rented properties may have to pay uncollected tax and possibly a penalty.

real estateBut enforcement of this law has been questioned, as was reported by Steve Kilar for the Baltimore Sun in his October 1st article (Homestead Credit Penalty Goes Into Effect This Week). Some are concerned if and how the penalty would be applied to those who are “caught” wrongly receiving the homestead credit. Enforcement may, as was reported, rely on the requirement for the State to prove “willful misrepresentation.”

The effort to weed out those undeservingly receiving the homestead credit began several years ago, when in 2007 home owners were required to apply to receive the credit. This application process is culminating to a frenzy of home owners who have not yet reapplied. And according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, home owners who have yet to apply/reapply for the homestead credit will have until December 31st to submit the application. If you are unsure if you have applied/reapplied, you can check your status by following the instructions on the SDAT website on the homestead credit (http://www.dat.state.md.us/sdatweb/homestead.html).

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of October 15, 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.