Maryland Fast Track for Vacant and Abandoned Properties Finds New Application during COVID-19 Pandemic
MARYLAND CASE LAW UPDATE
The Maryland “fast track” option for Vacant and Abandoned Properties would require our clients to file a petition pursuant to 7-105.14(f)(4) asserting that the property is vacant and abandoned. The process would look like this:
Initially when this process was rolled out by the Maryland Legislature in 2017, the firm and most of our clients reviewed and determined that this option did not provide much lift, as opposed to simply sending out the NOI and waiting the prescribed time. Best case scenario, it saved the sending of the NOI and the 45 day waiting period, but it substituted a 20 day response period for the borrower to object and a potential hearing. So the net benefit to our clients, assuming a borrower did not respond, was the difference of 25 days. Since this option to petition the courts to establish vacancy rolled out several years ago, most of our clients have not proceeded in this fashion. (We speculated that if approx. half of our MD borrowers request mediation where there is a cost, potentially to delay the process, that objecting to the vacancy status, which does not cost anything would occur frequently, thereby negating the timeline savings).
However, since the NOI is currently prohibited by the state from being sent out during the moratorium issued by the Governor’s Emergency Orders, the firm has been encouraging our clients to file petitions whenever possible. Clients may proceed with filing Petitions for Immediate Foreclosure anytime we are able to establish Vacant and Abandoned properties exist per the below requirements.
There is no NOI in this process. But there is a Notice of Foreclosure Action that the secured party must include when serving the Line to Docket that informs the borrower of (1) the significance of the Court’s Order and (2) that the borrower has the right to challenge the court’s finding that the property is vacant and abandoned. (included in attachment). If you would like the firm to handle this notice, we would charge $250.00 per file and would need blanket approval to proceed in this fashion.
If a borrower does dispute the vacant and abandoned status of the property and a hearing is required, we will ask for additional fee approval for the hearing and any further pleadings that the court may require. Typically such a hearing would be $500.00 for a first hearing.