What do visitability, foreclosure, and agency have in common?

Since the 428th session of the Maryland General Assembly ended Aprill 11th, have you read the “90 Day Report: A Review of the 2011Legislative Session” (mlis.state.md.us)? Many bills that affect real estate transactions as well as homeowners and those involved in the industry have been passed (and of course, many were defeated or not passed). Among the many new laws passed during the 428th legislative session, here are a few highlights.

The international movement which advocates for construction practices for the mobility impaired has taken hold in Maryland. HB437 requires home builders to offer “minimum” visitability features in new homes. The new law applies for new developments of 11 homes or more that receive preliminary approval on or after October 1st, 2011.

“’Minimum visitability features’ are defined as (1) a ground level entrance meeting specified height, width, and accessibility characteristics; and (2) a circulation route from the ground level entrance to an unattached garage, parking space, or public right-of-way that is free of specified impediments or vertical changes in levels greater than 1.5 inches. The builder must provide (1) a point of sale document describing the minimum visitability features; and (2) a drawing or photograph showing these features as well as the lots and new home types that are conducive to the construction of these features.”

If you plan to purchase a foreclosure in the near future, take note: HB842/SB516 indicates that you cannot begin to collect rent from a remaining tenant until you provide notice. As of July 1st a purchaser of a foreclosed property cannot collect rent unless they have: “1) conducted a reasonable inquiry into the property’s occupancy status and whether any individual in possession is a bona fide tenant; and 2) served on each bona fide tenant, by first-class mail with a certificate of mailing, a notice containing the contact information of the purchaser or the purchaser’s agent responsible for managing and maintaining the property and stating that the tenant must direct rent payments to this person.” You can claim rent up to 15 days immediately prior to satisfying the notice requirements.

If your real estate agent is part of a real estate team, there is a chance that a real estate agent of the same team will represent the other party of the transaction, provided that the appropriate disclosures are provided and all parties agree. Currently, only the team’s broker can assign two team members to represent a buyer and seller of the same transaction. Beginning October 1st, HB1049 will also allow a designee of the team’s broker to appoint team members to the same transaction, provided that the broker designee is not a member of that team.

To add teeth to the Commissioner of Financial Regulation’s enforcement of Maryland’s Protection of Homeowners in Foreclosure Act and the Maryland Mortgage Fraud Protection Act, HB509 (an emergency bill that went into effect earlier this year) clarifies the authority of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation, as well as clarifying a homeowner’s ability to seek damages. The Commissioner is authorized by this legislation “ to enforce these Acts by exercising any of the commissioner’s general enforcement powers, seeking an injunction, or requiring a violator to take affirmative action to correct a violation, including the restitution of money or property to any person aggrieved by the violation.” Additionally, a homeowner can seek damages as a result of a violation of the MPHIFA and MMFPA, regardless of the status of administrative actions or criminal prosecution of the offender.

by Dan Krell
© 2011

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.