Process of Recording Deeds in the Baltimore City Land Records

The process of recording deeds in the Baltimore City Land Records requires that a lien certificate be issued by Baltimore City’s Bureau of Revenue Collections. Lien certificates report on the status of any unpaid taxes, assessments and other municipal charges that produce a lien on real property.

Based on the lien certificate, payment for open liens is collected at the time of recording a deed, and the City stamps the deed that such payment has been made.   The May 7, 2019 ransomware attack on the City’s computer systems left the City unable to access some financial records in order to generate a lien certificate, putting a halt on the city’s real estate transactions.

The workaround that was developed by the City includes the following steps:

  • Baltimore City accepts requests for lien certificates in person or by mail at the Abel Wolman Municipal Building at 200 N. Holliday Street, in Room 1.
  • Any seller or transferor of a property will be required to sign a form Affidavit for Payment of Outstanding Charges. The Affidavit will re-affirm the transferor’s obligation to pay any outstanding charges that would otherwise appear on a lien certificate together with a promise to pay such charges within ten days of receipt of an invoice from the City.
  • At the time of recording, the responsible parties should pay all the open liens of which they are aware by check or money order.
  • The lien certificate, with the Affidavit attached, should be hand-delivered to Room 1B of the Abel Wolman Building at 200 N. Holliday Street.

This solution to the pause in real estate transactions essentially removes any risk stemming from existing liens from the new owner of the property, allowing title insurance companies to continue with their normal course of business in Baltimore. As a result, the City's real estate transaction process will be jump-started on Monday.

The recording process continues in the usual manner, including the payment of all applicable recordation and transfer taxes.  The City reserves the right to delay recording in situations where the risk of non-payment is determined to be unreasonable.

This process will protect a bona fide purchaser, the lender and their title insurer. In accordance with Article 28, Section 2-3(b) of the Baltimore City Code, upon the issuance of a lien certificate reporting no present liens, the City shall be barred from asserting any claim thereafter for and on account of any charge or assessment against the subject property.  At the same time, the City preserves its right to collect such charges from the transferor as soon as those charges can be determined.