Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

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At issue in this consolidated appeal was whether the Maryland Collection Agency Licensing Act (MCALA), as revised by a 2007 departmental bill, was constrained to the original scope of collection agencies seeking consumer claims or whether the revised statutory language required principal actors of Maryland’s mortgage market to obtain a collection agency license. In 2007, the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation requested a department bill to revise the definition of collection agencies required to obtain the MCALA license. The enacted departmental bill changed MCALA’s definition of “collection agencies” to include a person who engages in the business of “collecting a consumer claim the person owns if the claim was in default when the person acquired it[.]” The circuit courts below dismissed the foreclosure actions at issue in this appeal, concluding that foreign statutory trusts acting as a repository for defaulted mortgage debts were required to obtain a MCALA license before its substitute trustees filed the foreclosure actions. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the foreign statutory trusts did not fall under the definition of “collection agencies” that are licensed and regulated by MCALA, and therefore, the foreign statutory trusts were not required to obtain a license under MCALA before the substitute trustees instituted foreclosure proceedings on their behalf. View "Blackstone v. Sharma" on Justia Law

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In this breach of contract case stemming from the failure to pay for labor and materials provided by a construction subcontractor (Petitioner) to a general contractor through six construction contracts, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgments of the circuit court and the court of special appeals in favor of Respondents. The Court of Appeals held (1) where there has been an invocation of the Maryland Construction Trust Statute, there must be a showing that the statute applies to the contracts in dispute; (2) Md. Code Real Prop. 9-204(a) contains a requirement that the contracts be subject to the Maryland Little Miller Act or the Maryland Mechanics’ Lien Statute; and (3) Petitioner failed to demonstrate that the protections afforded by the Maryland Construction Trust Statute were applicable. View "C&B Construction, Inc. v. Dashiell" on Justia Law

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In this case involving a dispute over real property, the Court of Appeals held that Md. Code Ann. Real Prop. 14-601 to 14-621 and Maryland Rules 12-801 to 12-811 apply retroactively to all cases that were pending when the new statutes and Maryland Rules became effective, including this case, which was pending in the Court of Appeals when the statutes and Maryland Rules became effective. When applied to this case, the new statutes and Maryland Rules do not require dismissal for failure to join a deceased record owner who has no known personal representative. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals and remanded the case to that Court with instructions to vacate the judgment of the circuit court and remand this case to the circuit court for further proceedings, namely, the filing of an amended complaint to quiet title with the appropriate affidavit in accordance with the new statutes and Maryland Rules governing actions to quiet title. View "Estate of Charles Howard Zimmerman v. Blatter" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the circuit court finding that the Dormant Mineral Interests Act (the Act), Md. Code Ann. Envir. 15-1201 through 15-1206, is constitutional and terminating Petitioners’ mineral interests. The Act authorizes a circuit court, under certain circumstances, to terminate a dormant severed mineral interest, thus effecting a merger of that mineral interest with the estate overlying it. Owners of surface estates (Respondents), invoked the Act, seeking termination of dormant mineral interests held by Petitioners. The circuit court entered a final order merging the terminated mineral interests of Petitioners into the surface estates of Respondents. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Act does not violate Article 24 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights or Article III, section 40 of the Maryland Constitution because the Act is not retrospective and vested rights are not subject to Maryland’s enhanced protection rule. View "Ellis v. McKenzie" on Justia Law

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The trial court in a second lawsuit against Defendants seeking reformation of a refinance deed of trust properly determined that the elements of res judicata and collateral estoppel were satisfied and thus barred Plaintiffs from bringing the claims. Financial Institution, the former owner of a note for a refinance mortgage loan, sued Defendants, a married couple, for reformation of the refinance deed of trust because the wife had not signed the refinance deed of trust, leaving Financial Institution unable to institute foreclose proceedings against Defendants’ property. The trial court ruled in favor of Defendants. Three years later, the current owner of the note and the title insurer of the refinance mortgage loan (collectively, Plaintiffs) sued Defendants for reformation of the refinance deed of trust. The trial court again in favor of Defendants, concluding that Plaintiffs were barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel from bringing and relitigating the claims in the second lawsuit. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the trial court in the second lawsuit (1) properly declined to apply judicial estoppel to bar Defendants’ argument that Plaintiffs were in privity with Financial Institution; and (2) correctly determined that res judicata and collateral estoppel barred Plaintiffs from relitigating their claims in the second lawsuit. View "Bank of New York Mellon v. Georg" on Justia Law

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A county may rescind its approval of a municipality’s rezoning of annexed land. The Town Commissioners of Queenstown annexed farm land adjacent to Queenstown in Queen Anne’s County and rezoned the annexed land for purposes of a planned development. The Town sought the County’s approval of the new zoning classification. The outgoing Board of County Commissioners approved the Town’s rezoning. After the November 2014 election, the newly installed Board of County Commissioners rescinded that approval. Waterman and the Town then brought this action against the County. The circuit court issued a declaratory judgment that the resolution rescinding approval had “no legal force and effect.” The Court of Special Appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the County had authority to rescind the initial resolution approving the rezoning. View "Waterman Family Ltd. Partnership v. Boomer" on Justia Law

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To be valid, a Development Rights and Responsibilities Agreement (DRRA) is not required to confer an enhanced public benefit on a county. After a DRRA was approved and recorded, Cleanwater Linganore, Inc. and other individuals and entities (collectively, Cleanwater) filed a petition for judicial review, challenging the validity of the DRRA, arguing that the DRRA was void for lack of consideration because Petitioners had failed to prove any “enhanced public benefits” as consideration. The circuit court affirmed the Frederick County Board of County Commissioner’s approval of the DRRA. The court of special appeals reversed, concluding that the DRRA was void for lack of consideration because it lacked any enhanced public benefits to Frederick County. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the DRRA was not required to confer any enhanced public benefit to the County and was supported by sufficient consideration. View "Lillian C. Blentlinger, LLC v. Cleanwater Linganore, Inc." on Justia Law

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Hosford, severely disabled and wheelchair-bound, has muscle spasms and pain.Since 1989, Hosford has resided at Foghorn's Baltimore CIty Ruscombe Gardens Apartments, subsidized through a federal “Section 8” project-based program. Hosford signed a “Drug-Free Housing Policy” with his lease. In 2014, the complex had a bed bug infestation. An extermination company entered Hosford’s unit and saw a marijuana plant growing in his bathtub. They reported this to the management office. A responding police officer concluded the plant was marijuana, confiscated it, and issued a criminal citation. A police chemist concluded that the plant was marijuana. A nolle prosequi was entered on the possession charge. Foghorn gave Hosford a notice of lease termination. When he did not vacate, Foghorn initiated an eviction. The Court of Appeals held that Maryland Code, Real Property 8-402.1(b)(1), which provides that a court ruling on a landlord-tenant dispute must conclude that a breach of a lease is “substantial and warrants an eviction” before granting judgment for possession of the leased premises, is not preempted by federal regulations mandating that subsidized Section 8 project-based housing developments include lease provisions that engaging in any drug-related criminal activity on or near the leased premises is grounds for termination of the lease. View "Chateau Foghorn, LP v. Hosford" on Justia Law

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At issue was the use of a lien on real property as part of a deferred financing arrangement for the construction of water and sewer infrastructure to serve a new home development. To carry out a deferred financing strategy, Developer used an instrument called a declaration, which provided for payments of an annual assessment by future homeowners to Respondent. The declaration purportedly granted a lien by future homeowners to Respondent to secure the payment of the annual assessment and gave priority to that lien at a date before the development was constructed or any homeowner had granted such a lien. Petitioner, the holder of a deed of trust that arose out of the financing of one of the homes in the development, brought this action to clarify the priority of its interest in that property in relation to the lien asserted by Respondent for delinquent assessments. The Supreme Court held (1) the declaration recorded by Respondent did not itself create a lien on the property because Petitioner must follow the procedures set forth in the Maryland Contract Lien Act to establish a lien under the declaration with respect to delinquent assessments; and (2) the priority of that lien is determined by the date of its recording in the land records. View "Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. v. Saddlebrook West Utility Co., LLC" on Justia Law

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This lawsuit was the result of the amendments to an area master plan to prohibit surface mining in certain mineral-rich areas of the county. The amendments were made by County Council of Prince George’s County, sitting as district council. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether two mining companies and a mining trade organization (collectively, Respondents) could seek judicial review of the master plan and whether the master plan amendments were preempted by state law. The Court of Appeals held (1) Respondents can seek judicial review of the master plan under Md. Code Ann. Land Use 22-407; (2) the trial court erred in upholding the district council’s adoption of the master plan amendments as procedurally proper; but (3) the amendments are severable, and the remaining portions of the master plan still stand. View "County Council of Prince George's County v. Chaney Enterprises Ltd." on Justia Law