Researching Home Ownership Law
In Maryland, the official source for 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 they provide summaries of cases interpreting the statute and their citations. 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
The official source for 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 print versions, the United States Code Annotated and the United States Code Service. It may be more helpful 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. The print versions also include summaries of cases interpreting the statute. There is no up-to-date free version of the United States Code on the web, therefore, 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 Regulations). The print version of COMAR is available in all Maryland law libraries 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 here.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers grants, loans, and other assistance to persons purchasing, developing, or improving houses. 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 the CFR is available in all Maryland law libraries 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 controlled by local laws. 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. Ordinances are another word describing local laws. The Baltimore City Code is available on the web. A list of other Maryland municipal codes are also available online. 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 understand home ownership law. Keep in mind, however, that books explaining the law are no substitute for the law itself. You should always verify what the authors of these books say 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 your research on 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 following 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, a subject index to Maryland case law, or the Federal Practice Digest, a subject index to federal case law. The Digests arrange summaries of published cases based on their legal issue using the "topic and key number" system. Once you know the topic and key number combination for your issue, look up that topic and key number in the Digest to find a list of case summaries that discuss your legal topic. Each summary includes a citation to the full text of a case.