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Steve's News from Annapolis

2019-06-12

 

Good Morning,

A couple of weeks ago I joined Jamie Fenton from Rodgers Forge as she filed 85 requests to modify property deeds that have restrictive, racist and discriminatory covenants. Yes 85! The Rodgers Forge Board was able to submit these changes due to legislation that I helped to get passed in the General Assembly in 2018.

While the deed language that prevents sale of a property, or its occupancy, because of a person’s color, race or religion is unconstitutional and unenforceable, many home owners are outraged and greatly offended that such language is even included in their deeds.

A number of people have asked me about the law and whether particular communities can file similar requests to modify the deeds and strike that language. Let me try to describe the law and the process:

As a result of Chapter 636 of the Laws of 2018 (Senate Bill 621), Maryland law (Real Property Article, Section 3-112) enables a person to modify property deeds or covenants concerning their home by striking language that unlawfully restricts ownership based on race, religious belief or national origin. While these restrictions are legally unenforceable, many people find this language abhorrent. This law allows the deletion of these unlawful restrictions in an uncomplicated manner with no filing fees if done in the next few months.

Under the new law, a person who wants to modify these unlawful restrictions can be:

  • an individual who has an ownership interest in property that the person believes is subject to an unlawfully restrictive covenant; or
  • a nonprofit entity (such as a neighborhood association or a community association with defined boundaries) that is required to enforce covenants that limit architectural alterations, renovations, landscaping elements or other modifications to homes, as well as the unlawfully restrictive covenants.

To modify a deed or covenant, the person (an individual or a nonprofit entity) can file a modification request with the Clerk of the Court in the county where the home is located. The modification must be made on an intake sheet (supplied by the court) and include a copy of the original deed or covenant with the unlawful language stricken or lined out.

The intake sheet must be signed by the property’s record owner, OR if it is filed by a nonprofit entity, the intake sheet must be accompanied by a statement that a majority of the governing body of the nonprofit entity has agreed to modify the restrictive covenants.

In Baltimore County, the intake sheet and necessary documents are to be taken to the Finance Office on the first floor of the Old Court House where they are filed with other deeds and related documents. Once they have been received, they will be sent to the County Attorney for review and approval.

The new law also enables the deletion of unlawfully restrictive covenants that apply to the common areas of a “homeowners’ association” (created under Article 11B of the Real Property Article). On or before September 30, 2019, the governing body of a homeowners association is required to delete any of these unlawfully restrictive covenants, and beginning October 1, 2019, the governing body must delete an unlawfully restrictive covenant within 180 days after receiving a request from a lot owner.

To encourage the speedy modification or deletion of these unlawfully restrictive covenants, the law exempts these modifications or deletions from recordation fees if the filings are made at the court house on or before September 30, 2019. Beginning October 1, 2019, the usual recordation fees (approximately $60 - $115) will apply.

Deeds are filed in the Land Records Office with the Clerk of the Circuit Count. If you have further questions about the process for modifying a deed, you can call the Clerk of the Circuit Court. In Baltimore County, the phone number is 410-887-2601. If you have further questions for me, please email me at Stephen.Lafferty@house.state.md.us . 

Best wishes,

Steve

Contact Steve

Contact Delegate Lafferty
By Phone: 410-841-3487
By Email: stephen.lafferty@house.state.md.us

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By Email: lafferty@delegatelafferty.com

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