Baltimore 2020 Property Acquisition Guidelines
Acquisition of Properties at Tax Sale 2020

Liens on properties offered at Tax Sale are subject to the following procedures.  The City will offer its lien interests on individual properties by an Internet-based sealed bid auction using the high bid premium method provided in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Tax-Property Article, sections 14-817(b)(2) et. seq.

All bids must be submitted on  Bids can be submitted beginning July 17, 2020.  Bids will be awarded on July 20, 2020, in accord with the batch listings that will be posted on the website.  Batches are subgroups of the advertised list of properties that serve to organize tax certificates and facilitate bid submission.  Each tax certificate in each batch is offered independently of every other tax certificate in that batch.  The tax certificates are arranged in sequential order.  A unique closing time is established for each batch.

Eight batches of liens on properties will be offered for bid throughout the day.  Batches are scheduled to close each hour, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Local Time.  Acceptance of bids for the final batch ends at 4:00 p.m.  No additional batches will be offered and no additional bids will be accepted after 4:00 p.m. Local Time.

The terms of the sale are as follows and the applicant must complete the following steps prior to being permitted to bid in the auction:
  1. If you have not previously obtained an ID and password for the web site, click Sign Up and complete the required information on  No mail-in or e-mail registrations will be accepted.
  2. Accept the terms of the User Agreement.
  3. Complete and submit an online IRS Form W-9 to the City.
  4. Electronically pay the $100.00 registration fee via ACH Debit. The registration fee is non-refundable and will not be subtracted from the amount owed for liens.  To ensure the authenticity of accounts, the same bank account used to pay the registration fee will be debited for certificates purchased following the close of the tax sale.  The bank account number must be the same for bidder registration payments and certificate purchases, with no exceptions.
  5. Enter Attorney contact information (optional).
  6. Submit a Budget on the Account Summary page to cover the costs of your anticipated purchases.
Registration is not complete until the applicant pays the registration fee and receives a bidder number.  No one will be permitted to register after registration ends at the close of business on July 10, 2020.

Should any successful bidders not make full payment for any or all of the certificates that are awarded in the tax sale, including any associated high bid premiums, they may be prohibited from participating in future tax sales.  Payment shall include the amount of taxes and other municipal liens due on the property, together with interest and penalties thereon, all costs and the amount of the high bid premium if applicable. Should the highest bidder not make full payment, the certificate will be awarded to the next highest bidder.   

A subsequent special tax sale of bundled properties, cited by the City as vacant and abandoned properties, may be conducted by sealed bid at a later date.  Interested parties should contact the City's Tax Sale Unit after July 30, 2020, for additional information regarding the terms of this additional sealed bid tax sale.

Some of the properties included in the tax sale may later be subject to additional liens due to pending work orders that have been issued to correct various building violations.  Since in most cases the work has not been completed, and in all cases the charges have not been billed, it has been impossible to include these charges in the total liens due at this time.


A Tax Lien Certificate Holder has no right to possession of the property until a deed is acquired. Pursuant to Annotated Code Maryland, Tax-Property Article, section 14-828, when the property is redeemed, the person redeeming shall pay to the Collector the following:
  1. The total lien amount paid at the Tax Lien Certificate Sale, including redemption interest,
  2. Any taxes, interest, and penalties paid by any holder of the Tax Lien Certificate,
  3. Any taxes, interest, and penalties accruing after the date of the Tax Lien Certificate Sale, and
  4. In the manner and by the terms required by the Director of Finance, any expenses or fees for which the plaintiff or the holder of the Tax Lien Certificate is entitled to reimbursement under Annotated Code of Maryland, Tax-Property Article, section 14-843.

The City has established the following business rules, governing certain aspects of the Tax Sale and ancillary processes.  These rules are consistent with the authority granted to the City under the Annotated Code of Maryland, Tax-Property Article, section 14-817, to set the terms of the Tax Sale.

Timely Notification by Tax Lien Certificate Holder of Legal and Other Expenses:
  1. Tax Lien Certificate Holders are required to provide the City with a means of notification, either an e-mail address or facsimile telephone number, where they can be reached to facilitate redemption the Tax Lien Certificate.  The address of record must be kept current, with the City receiving timely notification from the Tax Lien Certificate Holder of any change in the manner by which they are to be notified.  This information should be initially provided by completing the bidder registration screen on the web site.  Any subsequent changes to this information shall be provided to the City as a request to change the Tax Lien Certificate Holder notification address.  For e-mail, the request should be sent as an e-mail request to, or for facsimile notification by faxing the request to the Baltimore City Tax Sale Office at 410-837-6994.
  2. The Tax Sale Office will not assess or collect any fees before or after the filing of a complaint to foreclose the rights of redemption. The Tax Lien Certificate Holder must collect any fees and provide a legal fee release to the Tax Sale Office. The release must include the amount of attorney's fees, the amount of the title search fees, and any other costs must be submitted on legal letterhead stationery.  All correspondence in this regard shall be sent to the Tax Sale staff by e-mail or at the following address:
Wolman Municipal Building
200 Holliday Street, Room 1
Baltimore, Maryland 21202

If the Tax Lien Certificate Holder fails to respond to the City's contact in a timely and/or satisfactory manner, the City may, at its sole discretion, elect to complete the redemption on behalf of the party in interest without the inclusion of legal and other allowable fees incurred by the Tax Lien Certificate Holder.

After the City provides notice of redemption to the Tax Lien Certificate Holder, any additional action taken or additional fees or expenses incurred by the Tax Lien Certificate Holder shall be at its own expense.

The redeeming party still must pay the City of Baltimore directly for all liens plus interest and any applicable subsequent taxes.
  1. Upon filing a complaint to foreclose the rights of redemption, additional fees may be applicable six months for non-owner-occupied properties and nine months for owner-occupied residential properties from the date of tax sale or sooner if there is a substantial repair order.
Proof of payment of the fees to the Tax Sale Office must include a Release under affidavit that contains an itemized list of the fees paid by the redeeming party, the address of the property(ies), the date of filing the foreclosure, and the applicable foreclosure case number.  If the case number cannot be immediately obtained, proof to the Tax Sale Office must include an affidavit from the attorney stating that a Complaint to Foreclose the Right of Redemption has been filed, the address of the property(ies), the date of filing, and the initial fee associated with the filing.
  1. The City defines "owner-occupied residential property" as a property which is coded as "H" or "D" by the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation ("SDAT") on January 1st of the year before the date of the tax sale.  That coded designation will be published online by the City and shall remain associated with the property for all purposes related to that tax sale, including notices, foreclosure filing dates, dates for adding fees and costs, and redemptions. After online publishing, it shall remain unchanged for all purposes for that tax sale, regardless of errors or subsequent changes in the coding by SDAT.
When the property is redeemed prior to the issuing of the Tax Lien Certificate, the Tax Lien Certificate Holder will automatically receive a refund check from the City of Baltimore for the lien amount and all applicable interest and costs.  If the Tax Lien Certificate has been issued to the Tax Lien Certificate Holder, the Certificate must be returned to the City before the refund is issued.  Failure to return the Tax Lien Certificate to the City will result in withholding of the refund of the lien amount and all applicable interest and costs until the Certificate has been returned to the City.

The City shall return the lien amount to the Tax Lien Certificate Holder but shall pay no interest, attorneys fees, costs, or other charges in connection with any Tax Lien Certificate voided subsequent to award.  Reasons for declaring tax lien certificates void shall include but are not limited to the following: lien previously paid, lien the result of an incorrect or erroneous assessment, lien barred by law from being placed in the tax sale, open-active bankruptcy cases, open-active foreclosure cases, and lien resulting from clerical errors affecting the validity of the tax sale.

Persons who are holding certificates on properties certified by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore as requiring substantial repairs may, at any time after 60 days from the date of sale, file a Complaint to Foreclose All Right of Redemption. If the Tax Lien Certificate Holder is successful in his or her action to foreclose the right of redemption, the Court will sign a Decree granting the Tax Lien Certificate Holder title to the property and instructing the Tax Lien Certificate Holder to prepare a deed that shall be submitted for the signature of the Director of Finance. The Tax Lien Certificate Holder must also pay all taxes and municipal liens that have accrued from the date of the Tax Sale together with the balance of the purchase or bid price, and record the deed.

To ensure that Tax Lien Certificate Holders fully comply with the law and the required procedures as set forth in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Tax-Property Article, sections 14-808 through 14-854, Tax Lien Certificate Holders may wish to seek the advice of an attorney.


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