“PLAN OFFERED TO CURB ILLS OF TAX SALES: Real Estate Group Urges City To Create Competitive Market WOULD ELIMINATE ‘ALLEY PROPERTY’ Recommendations Made In Report To Mayor Jackson.” The Sun (1837-1991); Baltimore, Md. May 21, 1936.


Real Estate Group Urges City To Create Competitive Market


Recommendations Made In Report To Mayor Jackson

A comprehensive plan for meeting the situation faced by the city as result of the rapidly increasing number of worthless properties the city is being forced to buy at tax sales was presented to Mayor Jackson yesterday by a special committee of the Real Estate Board.

At present the city has acquired about 2,500 properties, of which approximately 1,400 are classed as “improved.” The major .portion of the 1,400, however, were looted by thieves before they were acquired and many are virtual wrecks.

Recommendations Made

The committee’s plan contains the following recommendations:

  • The city should exhaust every possible effort to avoid tax sales and create a private competitive market for properties it is compelled to sell for taxes.
  • Every possible effort should be made; to devise some plan to assure purchasers of property at tax sales of a sound title.
  • Where possible, providing the sum involved is not more than the cost of conducting and ratifying a tax sale, the city should acquire through ordinary purchase any property scheduled for sale for taxes.
  • The city should liquidate its tax-sale property as soon as possible. Acquired properties should be rehabilitated, if such work is economically sound, or razed.
  • The so-called “alley property” should be eliminated as quickly as possible.
  • Strict laws should be enacted to prevent the looting of vacant houses, and better police protection should be accorded such properties.

Discusses Assessments .

The committee’s findings and recommendations were embodied in a five-page report.

“All assessments,” the report said, should be based upon actual fair value, and adjusted from year to year so that the entire economic value of the property would not be absorbed by tax liens and penalties in the short space of three years.

“A percentage of the real estate 1 in Baltimore is assessed at values beyond reason. In many cases appeals to the Appeal Tax Court and State Tax Commission do not receive proper consideration and action.

“Many applications for abatements are bluntly refused, while in other cases abatements granted represent but a small part of the reductions to (Continued on Page 6, Column 5) […] (Continued from Page 24) which the owners, in our opinion, are justly entitled.

Wants Penalties Reduced

“The drastic penalties now imposed on delinquent taxpayers—the equivalent of 20.4 per cent per year on current taxes for the last five months in the calendar year and seven per cent, per annum thereafter—should be materially reduced.

“Lack of adequate police protection for vacant property is a major factor in causing the abandonment of property and the resultant contribution to the extension of blighted areas.

“Wholesale Robbery” Cited

The wholesale robbery of houses as fast as they become vacant—frequently within twenty-four hours after a tenant has moved—is costing owners hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. In some cases owners are finding it necessary to immediately remove all plumbing, heating and electric fixtures as soon as a tenant vacates.

“The expense of doing this or replacing stolen equipment repeatedly is prohibitive, resulting in abandonment oi the property.”

The committee recommended drastic legislation designed to end the looting. It suggested a closer supervision of concerns that buy equipment similar to that being stolen, and an ordinance making it illegal for a tenant to give up a house without first notifying his landlord.