Category Archives: Real Estate Law

To see articles written by our attorneys on a range of topics, just use the links to the right.
New EV Charging Station Requirements in Maryland for Homebuilders

As homebuilders in Maryland may already know, there has been a requirement in the State that homebuilders provide an option to purchasers of single family detached houses and town houses to add EV charging stations to new homes. Since 2021, builders were required to include a disclosure regarding this option in sales contracts. An expansion…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 09/20/2023

The As-Is Clause In Real Estate: Is It Enforceable?

It seems like an easy thing to do when selling a property: just hand over the keys and include an “as-is” clause in the contract. After all, caveat emptor – “buyer beware.” But do you really know what an as-is clause means? It’s more complex than it seems, and it doesn’t mean the buyer can’t…READ MORE

Author: Judyann M. Lee 03/29/2023

Pros & Cons of Downsizing Your Office Space in D.C.

Looking through the local news recently, I noticed an article about D.C. companies making significant changes to their office spaces. Notably, statistics show that more and more businesses are choosing to downsize their spaces and move to other locations. In the age of Zoom meetings and hybrid working environments, many companies are rethinking their need…READ MORE

Author: Judyann M. Lee 03/07/2023

Creating Covenants That Help Plan the Development of Multi-Use/Multi-Owner Projects: Reciprocal Easement Agreements (“REAs”)

If you are the developer of a multi-use project or are planning to develop a large real estate project with multiple owners, a reciprocal easement agreement (“REAs”) may be an appropriate avenue for the coordination of the development and future maintenance of the project. REAs are legal agreements, customarily recorded in the local land records,…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 05/23/2022

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Make Key Changes Following The Tragic Surfside Condominium Collapse

The Collapse In the early morning hours of June  24, 2021, the Champlain Towers South Condominium, a 12-story beachfront condominium in Surfside, Florida, collapsed as people watched in horror.  Ninety-eight people died and dozens were injured.  Soon afterward it was revealed that the condominium had structural problems that went unaddressed for several years.  Its concrete…READ MORE

Author: Judyann M. Lee 02/24/2022

Maryland HOA Common Area Warranty Requirements and Recommendations

Under Maryland law (Md Real Property Code Annotated, Section 11B-110), a developer of improvements upon common areas owned or to be owned by a homeowners association remains responsible for certain aspects of such improvements under an implied warranty created by such statute.  To determine how long the developer is responsible and to what the warranty…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 01/22/2021

Maryland Governor and Montgomery County Executive Impose New Covid Restrictions on Many Local Businesses

Effective November 10, Governor Hogan, by Executive Order, has imposed or restored certain Covid restrictions against the ability of Maryland businesses to fully operate.  The Governor’s Order also allows counties to impose more restrictive regulations: Montgomery County did just that by imposing a more restrictive regulation (also effective November 10). Both Orders primarily limit business…READ MORE

Author: Peter E. Ciferri 11/11/2020

The Importance Of Keeping Your Physical Office Location After The COVID-19 Pandemic

During these times of COVID-19 related business and office quarantining and closures, companies and their employees are learning new ways to be efficient and productive.  Remote working, while certainly a pre-COVID-19 option, has become the new normal.  Workers have become adept at completing tasks and projects away from the office, using platforms like remote-desktop for…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 07/20/2020

Why Am I Paying Percentage Rent In My Retail Lease?

Many leases for retail spaces, including restaurants, include terms that require the tenant to pay to the landlord a percentage of profits earned from gross sales.  This “percentage rent” payment is over and above the monthly base rent, operating costs and taxes that the tenant also pays the landlord under the lease. For retail or…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 05/06/2020

What Is A Tenant’s Exclusive Use Clause?

One important consideration for landlords and tenants in commercial lease negotiations in Maryland is whether to demand a tenant’s exclusive use clause (if you are the tenant) or when to extend that right to your tenants (if you are a landlord). An exclusive use clause grants the tenant the right to prevent the landlord from…READ MORE

Author: Peter E. Ciferri 05/03/2020

Delays In Commercial Lease Negotiation Resulting From COVID-19: Address These Types Of Issues Up Front In Your Leases

Any of you that are in the process of negotiating a new lease, or considering negotiating a new lease in the near future, should expect some issues regarding delays.  Tenants are finding themselves tentative to pull the trigger on signing leases due to uncertainty of their business moving forward in the short term. Additionally, there…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 04/21/2020

Possible Insurance Claims In The Face Of COVID-19

All of us who are trying to figure out how best to help our companies survive and perhaps even thrive in the coronavirus crisis should be sure to review and evaluate the insurance policies we carry to protect our companies from unexpected loss.  While none of us fully understand the extent of what the current…READ MORE

Author: Donna M. McMillan 04/13/2020

How Do I Give Notice Under My Contract?

COVID-19 closures, stay-at-home orders, and governmental restrictions are wreaking havoc on otherwise happy business relationships. Meeting monthly payment obligations is one major concern facing all parties as the calendar turns to April without an end to the pandemic crisis.  Businesses might also encounter difficulties reaching other deadlines or touchstones in a timely and complete manner….READ MORE

Author: Peter E. Ciferri 04/02/2020

Acts Of God: Enforcing And Negotiating Force Majeure Clauses For An Emergency

In the last two years, businesses and professionals in Maryland and Washington, D.C., have had to quickly pivot to avoid the negative economic impacts of completely unexpected events outside of their control.  First, there were tariffs and trade restrictions, followed quickly by the Coronavirus global pandemic.  How can you give your contracts additional strength before…READ MORE

Author: Peter E. Ciferri 03/18/2020

FRONT FOOT BENEFIT ALERT! New Court Case Affects Collection Rights

For those of you who either create, collect, buy or sell private front foot benefits for water and sewer installation reimbursements, a new Maryland court case affects the ability to collect delinquent charges from homeowners.  The Maryland Court of Special Appeals, in H.C. Utilities, LLC v. Song Y. Hwang, December Term, 2019,  No. CSA-REG-2423-2018, issued…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 02/25/2020

Want to Put Your Home on Airbnb? Read this first!

Are you thinking about offering your home as a short-term vacation rental?  Next to driving for Uber, short-term vacation rentals are the latest craze in side-hustles.  But before you clean out that extra bedroom and list your home on Airbnb or another online vacation rental website, you’d better make sure that you have the legal…READ MORE

Author: Judyann M. Lee 10/31/2019

New FHA Guidelines Make It Easier To Get Financing To Purchase A Condo

The Federal Housing Administration (“FHA”) released new guidelines for its project approval process for condominiums, which will go into effect on October 15, 2019.  These new guidelines are meant to streamline the process and make it easier for certain credit-worthy homebuyers to obtain FHA financing. Currently, for a homebuyer to be eligible for an FHA-insured…READ MORE

Author: Judyann M. Lee 09/22/2019

Do I Owe Development Impact Taxes In Montgomery County?

Applicants for building permits for new development in Montgomery County are generally subject to County “Impact Taxes”.  These impact taxes are for transportation and education impacts and are designed to defray the impact that new residents will have on the demand for schools and transportation infrastructure. These impact taxes can cost tens (or even hundreds)…READ MORE

Author: Peter E. Ciferri 06/28/2019

Occupancy Permit – Whose Responsibility?

Recently, we have had two instances in which clients signed leases and were obligated to obtain an Occupancy Permit.  In both cases, the prospective tenants were unable to obtain an Occupancy Permit because the use was not permitted. The landlord did not inform, or was unaware, that the use was not permitted in the zoning….READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 05/23/2019

You May Be In Violation of Consumer Protection Laws if Your Contract Disclosures Are Not Kept Updated

Most developers and builders of homes in residential subdivisions and condominiums know they must provide purchasers with certain disclosures at the time of contract and they prepare such disclosures for their initial sales. But many forget to update or amend their disclosures as the development progresses and information in the initially prepared disclosures changes over…READ MORE

Author: Judyann M. Lee 02/27/2019

How do I add an Accessory Apartment to my home?

Montgomery County Council adopted new and revised Zoning Ordinance regulations making it easier to secure permits for an accessory apartment unit for most agriculturally or residentially zoned properties. Under the revised County Zoning Ordinance, homeowners who previously would have been subject to a conditional use process to secure “Attached Accessory Apartment” or “Detached Accessory Apartment”…READ MORE

Author: Peter E. Ciferri 10/22/2018

Attention Maryland Home Builders–New Maryland Legislation

The following are some of the many new laws that will go into effect in Maryland on October 1, 2018, which are of interest to home builders in Maryland. Chapter 778 (House Bill 239) – Prince George’s County – Sales of Residential Real Property – Community Amenities – Advertising.  This legislation requires home builders in…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 09/26/2018

Can I Run An Airbnb® in Montgomery County?

A recent online search revealed approximately 227 available Airbnb®rooms, cottages, and homes for rent in the Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Silver Spring areas of Montgomery County. In a county known for regulations and restrictions, you might be asking: Are Montgomery County’s residents allowed to operate their residential homes as short-term rentals? As of July 1,…READ MORE

Author: Peter E. Ciferri 11/24/2017

Dangerous Easements: Do They Limit My Property Rights?

At some point during your life as a property owner, you will likely receive a strongly worded letter from governmental authority or a neighbor stating that they have the right to access your property by utilizing an “easement” or a “right-of-way”. Sometimes you might not even get a letter before noticing a stranger wandering through…READ MORE

Author: Peter E. Ciferri 06/26/2017

Could Your Community Be Deemed A “Hostile Environment”?

Your community association may now be liable for the discriminatory actions of residents who harass or create a hostile environment for other residents. A new HUD regulation that went into effect on October 14, 2016 places new burdens on condominiums and community associations, which should take steps to protect themselves. This is a scary proposition…READ MORE

Author: Judyann M. Lee 01/26/2017

Replace or Repair – The Historic Resource Conundrum

Maryland jurisdictions, including the Cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg and counties such as Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, have local laws intended to identify and protect historic buildings that are either “stand-alone” historic resources or “contributing resources” within a designated “historic district.” Historic buildings are, by definition, “old” and often in need of repair…READ MORE

Author: sorens 03/16/2016

HOA and Condo Board Members: A New Law in Montgomery County Applies to YOU!

As of January 1, 2016, Montgomery County requires everyone serving on the Board of Directors of a Homeowners or Condominium Association to successfully complete an online education program developed by the county’s Commission on Common Ownership Communities. All newly elected Directors must complete the educational training within 90 days after being elected or appointed for…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 01/27/2016

Watch Out for This Scam from Your “State Government”

A nationwide scam is now hitting our area. The scammers are accessing publicly-available records to generate fraudulent mailings to businesses and property owners, suggesting that you need to pay fees and submit extra documents in order to complete your transaction. To confuse you, the mailings often use misleading company names, designed to sound like official…READ MORE

Author: Lawrence S. Jacobs 12/21/2014

Why Many HOA Rules May Not Be Enforceable

Whether they were drafted 10 years ago by a developer or amended last week by an HOA’s Board of Directors. No matter how meticulously they hew to the letter of the law. Regardless of how long and technical – or brief and simple – the bylaws and rules of every Maryland homeowners’ association; they all…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 04/07/2014

Beware of the “Harmless” Letter of Intent

When you sign a “non-binding” Letter of Intent or Term Sheet before negotiating a lease, you might logically believe that you will not be bound by it. Unfortunately, based on recent trends and case law, that is not true. Letters of Intent and Term Sheets (both referred to as “LOIs” here) serve the same purpose:…READ MORE

Author: A. Howard Metro 12/06/2013

Should I Convert My Commercial Building into a Condominium?

Often, I am asked by my clients whether they should consider converting their commercial building into a condominium. If you are thinking about selling a commercial property that you own or plan to build in Maryland, then you may want consider this opportunity. It is very possible you could generate a more favorable return if…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 09/24/2013

Big Issues, Short Takes – June 2013

“Rain Tax, Rain Tax, Go Away!” You can chant “Rain Tax, Rain Tax, go away”, but it won’t stop Maryland’s new levy, implemented to offset the costs of runoff from impervious surfaces into the Chesapeake Bay. The Rain Tax affects you if your home, business or non-profit is located in Montgomery, Prince George’s, Frederick, Anne…READ MORE

Author: A. Howard Metro 07/01/2013

Big Issues, Short Takes – May 2013

Independent Contractors – Construction Many federal and state agencies are auditing employers to make sure they are properly classifying their workers as employees or independent contractors. A recent District of Columbia law, the Workplace Fraud Act, presumes that workers in the District of Columbia construction services industry are employees unless the employer can otherwise demonstrate that the…READ MORE

Author: Donna M. McMillan 05/15/2013

The Nightmare of General Easements

Easements are interests in real estate which usually provide a benefit to owners of one parcel of land, while burdening another parcel of land over which the easement runs. Sometimes the creators and drafters of easements describe them generally and do not ever provide their specific locations, or even specify the full nature or extent…READ MORE

Author: Tracie L. Clabaugh 03/01/2013

Real Property Taxes – APPEAL NOW!

Owners of both residential and commercial real property in Maryland recently received notices from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation (“SDAT”) indicating the newly assessed values of their real properties. These notices are generated by the SDAT every three years. For many, the assessed property values have increased since the last assessment date. Therefore,…READ MORE

Author: Robb A. Longman 01/21/2013

Who Owns the Premises When Determining Liability?

Can a mere real estate investor be liable for hazardous conditions in properties owned by others? That is not as clear as one might hope. A recent Maryland case sought to determine who the “owner” of an apartment was for purposes of assessing liability for an occupant’s exposure to lead paint. Many different parties were…READ MORE

Author: Ronald E. Lyons 09/28/2012

Encroaching Branches or Falling Trees: Rights and Liabilities of Property Owners

Our area is graced with an abundance of mature trees, many of considerable size. The maturity of the tree canopy is part of what gives many local residential areas their character and contributes greatly to their livability and charm. The severe storms that have visited the region in recent years, however, also remind us of…READ MORE

Author: Beth Tomasello 01/27/2011

Adding a Domestic Partner to Title

In the January issue of the McMillan Metro Alert, we advised our clients that the State of Maryland had carved out a limited exemption from the 10% inheritance tax for the devise of an interest in a principal residence jointly owned by domestic partners to the surviving partner along with the requirements for qualifying for…READ MORE

Author: Donna M. McMillan 08/25/2010

2010 Maryland Laws Applicable to Homeowners and Condominium Associations

For those interested in Homeowners Associations and Condominium projects, the Maryland General Assembly passed several new laws in 2010 that will affect the drafting of new governing documents for these types of projects to include how administration, management and maintenance requirements are addressed by the developer while in control of the project and, thereafter, by…READ MORE

Author: Michael A. Faerber 06/16/2010

Regulations Adopted for Transition from Developer to Owner-Control of Homeowners’ Associations

The Maryland legislature has adopted a new statute intended to regulate the transition of control from developer to owners in homeowners’ associations. This statute adds new Section 106.1 to the Homeowners Association Act, found in Section 11B of the Real Property Article of the Maryland Code (hereinafter the “Statute”). It will seem very familiar to…READ MORE

Author: Donna M. McMillan 01/25/2010