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Researching Home Ownership Law
In Maryland, the official source of the state statutes is the Annotated Code of Maryland. All Maryland law libraries and many Maryland public libraries (see SAILOR, Maryland's Online Public Information Network sponsored by Maryland public libraries) carry the Annotated Code of Maryland in print. For your convenience, this guide provides links to Maryland's statutes in a free web database maintained by Lexis-Nexis.
Keep in mind, however, that the print version may be more useful in your research because it provides summaries of and citations to cases that have interpreted each statute. The free web version does not give summaries of case law.
Citations to Maryland selected housing law statutes:
- Md. Code Real Property Article, Title 10: Sales of Property
- Md. Code Real Property Article, Title 4: Requisites of Valid Instruments (Deeds)
- Md. Code Real Property Article, Title 3: Recordation (of Deeds)
- Md. Code Real Property Article, Title 7: Mortgages, Deeds of Trust, and Vendor's Liens
- Md. Code Real Property Article, Title 11: Condominium Act
- Md. Code Real Property Article, Title 12: Eminent Domain
For more information on researching Maryland statutes, see Finding Statutes and Searching for Maryland Statutes When You Don't Have a Citation.
The official source of the federal statutes is the United States Code. All Maryland law libraries (list) and many Maryland public libraries (see SAILOR, Maryland's Online Public Information Network sponsored by Maryland public libraries) carry the United States Code in print. Many of the same libraries also carry one of the unofficial versions, the United States Code Annotated and the United States Code Service. It is a good idea to do your federal statute research in one of these unofficial print versions of the Code, because they are both more up-to-date than the official Code, and because they include summaries of cases that interpret each statute. Because there is no up-to-date free version of the United States Code on the web, we will not link to it here. However, below are some important federal housing-related statutes that you might want to look up in print:
- The Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. Sections 3601-3631 (prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing)
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development Act, 42 U.S.C. Sections 3531-3549 (created the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides assistance with home buying, development, and improvements)
- The Manufactured Housing Construction and Safety Standards Act, 42 U.S.C. Sections 5401-5426
The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation ("SDAT") appraises taxable property at market value and certifies property values to local governments for tax purposes. The SDAT's regulations are published officially in Title 18 of COMAR (the Code of Maryland Administrative Regulations), the print version of which is available in all Maryland law libraries (list) and many Maryland public libraries (SAILOR). SDAT's regulations are also available electronically here.
The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development ("DHCD") offers assistance to persons developing or improving housing. The DHCD's regulations are published officially in Title 5 of COMAR. DHCD's regulations are also available electronically here.
The Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation regulates mortgage lenders, bankers, and brokers. The Commissioner's regulations are available in the print version of COMAR, and electronically by clicking here.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers grants, loans, and other assistance to persons purchasing, developing, or improving housing. It also investigates complaints against deceptive contractors and housing discrimination. The Department's regulations are published officially in Title 24 of CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations), the print version of which is available in all Maryland law libraries (list) and many Maryland public libraries (SAILOR). The Department's regulations are also available electronically on the GPO Access home page.
City and County Ordinances
Zoning laws (laws about where, when, and how different types of structures may be built) are a matter of local law. Your local law library or public library will probably have a copy of your city's or county's ordinances, in which you can research zoning issues. The Baltimore City Code is available on the web. A list of other Maryland municipal codes is also available on the web. You can also find contact information, including links to web sites, for many local government offices by checking the Maryland Manual Online.
- Maryland Real Estate Forms / Russell R. Reno, Jr., Wilbur E. (Pete) Simmons, Jr. Baltimore, Md. : Rykim International Pub. Co., 1983- (looseleaf for updating).
- Residential Real Estate Transactions / Young Lawyers' Section, Bar Assn. of Baltimore City ; Searle E. Mitnick, Ann Clary Gordon, editors. 3rd ed. Baltimore, Md. : Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers, 1995- (looseleaf for updating).
- HUD Forms for downloading
- HUD Grants
- HUD Complaint Forms. For housing discrimination, faulty manufactured housing, deceptive contractors, etc.
Resources for Additional Help
The resources below may help you to understand home ownership law. Keep in mind, however, that books that explain the law are no substitute for the law itself. You should always verify what the authors of these books say about the law by looking up the statutes, cases, and regulations the books cite. Some of these books may also include sample forms.
- Mastering Real Estate Titles and Title Insurance in Maryland / Lawrence s. Conn, Gordon B. Heyman, J. Paul Rieger, Jr. Eau Claire, WI: National Business Institue, 2000.
- Residential Real Estate Transactions / J. Paul Rieger, Jr., Thomas D. Gibbons, editors. 4th ed. Baltimore, Md. : Maryland Institute for Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers, 1995- (looseleaf for updating).
There are several ways to begin research into home ownership case law. One way is to find the statutes that apply to your situation in the Annotated Code of Maryland, the United States Code Annotated, or the United States Code Service then look at the case summaries that follow them. You can find additional cases by reading books that explain the law and noting the cases they cite. Another method of finding cases is to search the Maryland Digest, which is a subject index to Maryland case law, or the Federal Practice Digest, which is a subject index to federal case law. The Digests arrange summaries of published cases by legal issue using something called the "topic and key number" system. Once you know the topic and key number combination that represents your issue, look up that topic and key number in the Digest and you should find a list of summaries of cases that discuss your issue. Each summary includes a citation to the full text of a case.
Is this legal advice?
This site offers legal information, not legal advice. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options. However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney. The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site. In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – www.peoples-law.org. © Maryland State Law Library, 2013.”