Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property 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 After the November 2014 election, the newly installed Board of County Commissioners rescinded that approval.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

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The Maryland Condominium Act allows access to communally-held property to be restricted as a means to enforce payment of condominium fees, but such restrictions must first be authorized by the unit owners through agreement in the condominium’s declaration. In this case, a condominium association and its management firm (collectively, Elvaton) claimed that unit owners William and Dawn Rose were delinquent in paying their condominium fees. The association thus prohibited the Roses from parking in the parking lot overnight or using the pool until they paid their allegedly delinquent fees. The circuit court ruled that Elvaton did not have the authority to restrict the Roses’ use of the parkings lots and the pool as a means of collecting on the debt. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Elvaton did not include a restriction to the general common elements of the condominium as a means to enforce payment of condominium fees in the condominium’s declaration, the restriction was invalid. View "Elvaton Towne Condominium Regime II, Inc. v. Rose" on Justia Law

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The circuit court and Court of Special Appeals affirmed the decision of the Howard County Board of Appeals approving a conditional use application for a funeral home in Howard County’s Rural Residential-Density Exchange Option zone. The Howard County Board of Appeals hearing examiner initially denied the proposed conditional use plan, but after public hearings and two revisions, the Board approved the conditional use application subject to several conditions. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the Board properly analyzed the revised plan pursuant to the relevant statutory requirements; (2) the Board did not err in concluding that the revised plan would not create an adverse cultural impact on vicinal properties or that such impact will be beyond those ordinarily associated with funeral home and mortuary uses; and (3) substantial evidence supported the Board’s conclusion that the revised plan contemplated a 100-foot stream buffer in compliance with state requirements. View "Clarksville Residents Against Mortuary Defense Fund, Inc. v. Donaldson Properties" on Justia Law

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In order to recover attorney’s fees against a negligent title searcher using the collateral litigation doctrine, the plaintiff must show that the title searcher’s negligence proximately caused the plaintiff to file a necessary collateral action, resulting in the plaintiff incurring reasonable litigation costs necessarily and in good faith, and that the plaintiff has not otherwise received compensation for those costs. The Ochses purchased property from the Henrys. The Ochses later learned that a encumbrance bisecting their lot was part of a strip of land that had been granted to Dorchester County. Prior to this discovery, the Ochses filed a lawsuit against the Henrys to quiet title. The Ochses later filed a lawsuit against Chicago Title Insurance Company and Eastern Shore Title Company (ESTC), the title examiner, alleging breach of contract and negligence. The trial court found in favor of the Ochses and awarded a $215,710 against ESTC and Chicago Title, which was the amount of the attorney’s fees awarded to the Ochses in the Henry litigation. The trial court subsequently reduced its judgment against ESTC and Chicago Title by $215,710. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the trial court did not err by reducing the damages awarded to the Ochses by the amount previously satisfied by the Henrys. View "Eastern Shore Title Co. v. Ochse" on Justia Law

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At issue before the Court of Appeals was whether - without ruling out other possible causes of exposure - the fact that property tested positive for lead-based paint throughout its interior in 1976, combined with other circumstantial evidence, was sufficient for Plaintiff to establish that the subject property was a “reasonably probable source” of his lead poisoning. Plaintiff claimed that he was poisoned by lead-based paint as a toddler when he lived in a row house owned by Respondent during 1996 and 1997. The trial court granted Respondent’s motion for summary judgment on source and source causation. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Plaintiff presented sufficient circumstantial evidence to demonstrate that the subject property was a reasonably probable source of his elevated blood lead levels, and therefore, the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the issues of source and source causation. View "Rogers v. Home Equity USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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Jayson Master sought access to a lease between Calvert Tract, LLC and Whole Foods. Calvert Tract had earlier voluntarily provided a redacted version of the lease to Prince George’s County while its zoning application was pending. The County denied Master’s request seeking access to the lease, explaining that the lease was not subject to disclosure under the Maryland Public Information Act (MPIA). Master then filed a complaint seeking access to the lease. The trial court granted summary judgment to Calvert Tract and the County, concluding that the lease was confidential commercial information and therefore was exempt under the MPIA. The Court of Special Appeals affirmed. The Court of Appeals vacated the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals, holding that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment on the grounds that the lease was protected from disclosure under the MPIA’s confidential commercial information exemption. View "Amster v. Baker" on Justia Law