General Assembly Provides Housing Help for Marylanders
The General Assembly considers and approves legislation on any number of subjects each year. However, only a handful of issues get attention in the media.
As a future or current homeowner, you may be wondering what our officials in Annapolis accomplished on housing this year. Though much remains to be accomplished on the big picture issues like affordability and increasing housing supply, several positive changes to Maryland law that benefit consumers were approved and are now in effect:
Protecting Equity in Inherited Property. When a property is someone’s main or only asset, they often don’t have a formal will or estate plan. Instead, they pass the property to their children or other relatives upon their death. When this occurs, real estate speculators can take advantage of the situation and seek to acquire that property at well below market value through what is known as a partition sale. In the past, this has resulted in a loss of generational wealth for lower-income, rural and minority residents. Legislation passed in 2022 provides extra protections for those who inherit property so that they can receive the full value of that home when it is sold. (HB 777/SB 92 – Uniform Partition of Property).
Expanding Access to Affordable Rentals. A difficult aspect of providing affordable housing is finding available land on which to build new units. Some of that extra land can be found in parcels that a state or local government currently own, but no longer need for their original purpose. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development is now required to look at whether any of these government-held properties are suitable for use or redevelopment as affordable housing. The General Assembly also provided an additional $30 million to the Rental Housing Fund, which is used by non-profits and affordable housing developers to construct or rehabilitate rental housing projects. (SB 744/HB 927 – Affordable Housing – Surplus Property).
Helping Consumers Appeal High Property Tax Assessments. Maryland’s property tax assessment process has been described as confusing and unclear. A homeowner may have believed that their property’s assessed value is incorrect but couldn’t find the information needed to seek a reconsideration. Going forward, the State Department of Taxation is now required to post a plain language explanation of the property assessment and appeals process on their website. This will allow average consumers to understand how their home was assigned its value for tax purposes and how to challenge that value if they think it is wrong. (HB 69/SB 247 – Real Property Assessments and Appeals).
Property Tax Relief for Disabled Veterans and Surviving Spouses. Under certain circumstances, Maryland waives property taxes for veterans with 100% service-related disabilities and their surviving spouses. This was a straightforward process if the veteran was staying in their current home but presented problems if they needed to move to a new location. Because they could not apply for this exemption until after they had moved into their home, veterans needed to pay thousands of dollars in property taxes during the home sale and seek reimbursement. Eligible individuals are now allowed to apply for the tax exemption prior to their home purchase so that the full credit may be calculated in their loan payments and closing costs. (HB 809/SB 975 – Property Tax Exemption).
Maryland REALTORS® supports legislation in the General Assembly that promotes homeownership and housing affordability. Our legislative initiatives for each General Assembly session can be found at www.opendoorsmaryland.org