Relating to Real Estate

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Relating to Real Estate - October 2020

IN THIS ISSUE:

HOPEFUL RUBBLE LANDFILL OWNER DID NOT EXHAUST ITS ADMINISTRATIVE REMEDIES

NEW ACKNOWLEDGMENT FORMS BECAME EFFECTIVE ON OCTOBER 1, 2020

FORECLOSURE AND EVICTION STAYS ARE EXTENDED

NO ACTUAL HARM? NO FEDERAL RESPA CLAIM

157 YEARS OF HISTORY PRECLUDE RECOVERY OF RELOCATION EXPENSES

PASSIVE TRUSTEE DOES NOT HAVE LIABILITY FOR LEAD PAINT POISONING

RESIDENT MUST PAY UNAUTHORIZED HOA ASSESSMENTS

COURT OF APPEALS TO LLCS: STAY IN GOOD STANDING

SPEAKING OF REAL ESTATE

Hopeful Rubble Landfill Owner Did not Exhaust its Administrative Remedies

In 1990, Maryland Reclamation Associates, Inc. (MRA) purchased a 62-acre parcel in Harford County, Maryland (the Property) for $732,500 to be used as a rubble landfill.

Prior to closing on the purchase of the Property, the Property was included in the County Solid Waste Management Plan as a rubble landfill at the request of MRA, and MRA obtained a Phase I rubble landfill permit approval from the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Beginning just days after MRA closed on the Property, the Harford County Council introduced legislation amending the zoning requirements for rubble landfills that would effectively make it impossible for the Property to be sited as a rubble landfill without a variance.

A long and complicated history of more than 30 years of litigation about this legislation ensued before the current case, which is called Maryland Reclamation Assocs., Inc. v. Harford Cty, 468 Md. 339, 227 A.3d 230 (2020)reconsideration denied May 4, 2020, cert. denied No. 20-335, 2020 WL 6037255 (U.S. Oct. 13, 2020).

Read more.

Contact Caroline Sweet | 410-576-4275

 

New Acknowledgment Forms Became Effective on October 1, 2020

Under the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts (RULONA), there are now new acknowledgment forms for notarizations in Maryland. These forms became effective as of October 1, 2020. And while enacting new acknowledgment forms, RULONA repealed the prior acknowledgment forms authorized by Maryland law. There are two new statutory forms of acknowledgment, and they are very short. Please note that use of a form authorized under prior law will, in all probability, comply with the new law.

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Contact Ed Levin | 410-576-1900

 

Foreclosure and Eviction Stays Are Extended

By Executive Order dated October 16, 2020, Maryland Governor Lawrence J. Hogan, Jr. extended the stay on residential foreclosures and the prohibition of certain residential and commercial evictions.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Hogan declared a state of emergency and catastrophic health emergency in Maryland by Executive Order issued on March 16, 2020. The duration of the emergency has been extended several times, and remains in effect. The provisions of the October 16 Executive Order amend and restate Executive Orders that were issued on March 16, 2020, and April 3, 2020.

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Contact Ed Levin | 410-576-1900

No Actual Harm? No Federal RESPA Claim

In Baehr v. Creig Northrop Team, P.C., 953 F.3d 244 (4th Cir. 2020), cert. denied 2020 WL 5883390 (U.S. Oct. 5, 2020), homebuyers filed a putative class action against a real estate brokerage firm and a title company alleging a kickback scheme and violations of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).

The plaintiffs alleged that the brokers (Northrup) exclusively referred its clients to Lakeview Title Company (the Title Company) for settlement services, in exchange for which the Title Company paid Northrop illegal kickbacks in the form of monthly cash payments of up to $12,000, and totaling more than $500,000.

The problem with the plaintiffs’ case was that they did not pay more for title services than they would have paid in the marketplace for similar services, so they did not suffer actual damages.

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Contact Ed Levin | 410-576-1900

157 Years of History Preclude Recovery of Relocation Expenses

When we wrote “Wireless One Misses by 157 Years” in the February 2019 issue of Relating to Real Estate about the Court of Special Appeals’ decision in Wireless One, Inc. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 239 Md. App. 687 (2018), we noted that after Wireless One was advised it would not fit into the plans for the redeveloped Cross Street Market and it should pursue other options, Wireless One vacated the Market.

It then filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, alleging it was a “displaced person” under the Relocation Expenses Act, Maryland Code, Real Property Article (RP) §12-201(e)(1), and was entitled to receive relocation expenses as compensation under RP §12-205(a). The circuit court granted the City’s motion to dismiss the claim, and the Court of Special Appeals affirmed in a brief opinion.

Since our February 2019 article, the Court of Appeals granted a writ of certiorari in response to Wireless One’s petition, and the Court affirmed. Wireless One, Inc. v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 465 Md. 588, 214 A.3d 1152 (2019), reconsideration denied (Sept. 30, 2019).

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Contact Ed Levin | 410-576-1900

Passive Trustee Does Not Have Liability for Lead Paint Poisoning

In Hector v. Bank of New York Mellon, 244 Md. App. 322 (2020), cert. granted, 468 Md. 544 (2020), a bank that was appointed trustee of a securitization trust that owned a Baltimore City house acquired through foreclosure was sued in its individual capacity by the former occupants of the house for negligence as a result of lead paint poisoning.

Under the terms of the trust, the trustee was given only passive duties, such as distributing cash to certificate holders and relaying information from the loan servicer. This compares with managerial duties, which were the responsibility of the loan servicer. The Circuit Court for Baltimore City granted the bank’s motion for summary judgment on the basis that if the bank was to be sued, it should have been sued in its capacity as trustee, not in its individual capacity.

On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the circuit court’s decision.

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Lawrence Coppel wrote this summary. Larry is former Senior Counsel at Gordon Feinblatt and is now at lawrencecoppel@gmail.com.

Resident Must Pay Unauthorized HOA Assessments

Diane Steele stopped making payments to her homeowners association (HOA) because she claimed that several increases in annual assessments were not authorized by the two-thirds majority required by the HOA declaration. The HOA sued her unsuccessfully in the District Court for Montgomery County, but the HOA prevailed on its appeal to the Circuit Court. The Court of Appeals granted a petition for certiorari, skipping over the Court of Special Appeals, and affirmed the award to the HOA of $1,257.60 plus attorney’s fees of $4,200. Steele v. Diamond Farm Homes Corp., 464 Md. 364 (2019).

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Contact Ed Levin | 410-576-1900

Court of Appeals to LLCs: Stay in Good Standing

The Court of Appeals dismissed the petition of certiorari that it had granted to 7222 Ambassador Road, LLC, a Maryland limited liability company (7222), because 7222’s charter had been forfeited before it petitioned for cert. 7222 Ambassador Road, LLC v. National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, Inc., 470 Md. 66 (2020).

Because 7222 is a Maryland limited liability company, it is obliged by law to file a personal property return with the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation every year by April 15. However, 7222 did not do that by April 15, 2019, nor did it file within the 60-day cure period.

Read more.

Contact Ed Levin | 410-576-1900

Speaking of Real Estate 

HONORS

Twenty-four lawyers at Gordon Feinblatt LLC were named to the 2021 edition of Best Lawyers in America® list including the following in real estate and related areas:

Additionally, six Gordon Feinblatt attorneys were named 2021 Baltimore “Ones to Watch” by Best Lawyers in America®, including Caroline E. Sweet in the area of Real Estate Law.

Also, five Gordon Feinblatt attorneys were named 2021 Baltimore “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers in America®, including Searle E. Mitnick, who was named Real Estate Law “Lawyer of the Year.”

PRESENTATIONS AND PAPERS

Ed Levin was a panelist on “Navigating UCC Issues in Real Estate Finance Opinions: The ABA/ACMA/ACREL/ACCFL UCC Opinion Report,” a Stafford webinar, on September 3, 2020.

Ed Levin wrote “New Acknowledgment Forms Became Effective on October 1, 2020” for the Maryland Mortgage Bankers and Brokers Association, Inc., and the Maryland Bankers Association on October 5, 2020.

Ed Levin presented on “Electronic Signatures and Remote Notarizations in Maryland” for the James Macgill American Inns of Court on October 14, 2020.

Ed Levin will be a panelist on “Opinion Letters: Nuts and Bolts” at the Advanced Business Law Institute, part of MSBA Legal Excellence Week, on November 10, 2020.

Searle Mitnick and Caroline Sweet will be panelists on “COVID-19 and Real Estate Transactions: Where Are We and Where Do We Go From Here? A Discussion of Issues in Leasing, Opinion Letters, Hospitality Contracts, Purchase and Sale Agreements, and Related Insurance Considerations” at the Advanced Real Property Institute, part of MSBA Legal Excellence Week, November 10, 2020.

Ed Levin, Searle Mitnick, and Caroline Sweet are members of the 2020 MSBA Advanced Real Property Institute Planning Committee.

Searle Mitnick moderated “Let’s Make a Deal: Business Relationships in the COVID Era” for The Associated’s Lawyers’ Division webinar on October 13, 2020. Among the topics discussed were contractual relationships during the pandemic in the areas of employment, insurance and liability, force majeure, and real estate.