Baltimore City to Exclude Owner-Occupied Homes from Annual Tax Sale

For the third year, Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott committed to withholding owner-occupied properties from the annual tax sale.

“Baltimore’s renaissance is at hand, but it cannot be a renaissance that displaces those who have been here through thick and thin,” Mayor Scott said in his annual State of the City address.

The tax sale process − or more specifically, the potential for a property to go to tax sale − presents a much-needed tool of last resort to ensure that property owners remit payment for their fair share of taxes and charges connected to public services. But, of course, no jurisdiction wants to send any property to tax sale if it can be avoided.

State law requires counties and Baltimore City to collect delinquent real property taxes and other unpaid charges, all of which are liens against real property. In addition, the law requires that tax sales occur no later than two years from the date the tax is in arrears.

However, MACo successfully supported legislation in the 2023 General Assembly session to repeal the time limit requirements and instead require that the properties be sold at the time required by local law. HB 57  grants counties and Baltimore City complete flexibility in determining the frequency of tax sales, which could help minimize tax collection costs, assist with paying overdue taxes, and ultimately allow homeowners to remain in their homes.

By granting counties complete flexibility in determining the frequency of tax sales, the bill provides additional flexibility for local governments to facilitate access to support services when it is most helpful. HB 57 goes into effect on July 1, 2023.

MACo strongly prefers that homeowners receive all counseling, education, information, support, and additional assistance when appropriate to help them pay on time and avoid going through tax sale. To that end, MACo supported legislation to establish the Homeowner Protection Program, which offers homeowners facing tax sale potential cost avoidance and provides help like payment assistance, foreclosure mediation, and other services.

Visit the Baltimore City website to read Mayor Scott’s State of the City address.