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Horror Story: An Expensive Mistake

Curbed Horror Stories bring to light the many things that can go wrong in the world of buying or renting real estate. If you have a horror story to share with the world email us at We can keep any names and identifying characteristics confidential if needed.

A cautionary tale comes to us from Baltimore and reminds us all to read the fine print. Back in 2005 a homeowner in Park Heights planned to build a pool on two lots she had purchased in 1997, but the city required her to consolidate the two parcels of land before she could be approved for a permit to build a pool. So she filed the paperwork for consolidating the lots and eventually received a permit for the pool, which was completed in 2005. But then, two years later, she found a notice taped to the tree that the property was soon to be foreclosed upon. A call to the city told her that the property had been sold at auction a year previously because of unpaid taxes—even though she was sure that she had paid the taxes. Now another company had a tax lien against her for $43,000.

More digging into the drama revealed that the city never consolidated the two lots (even though they did approve the pool permit, which required the two lots to be consolidated). Their rationale? That there was $435 outstanding on the property taxes at the time and so the paperwork didn't go through. The homeowner says she has the canceled checks proving she had paid all of her taxes and the city has it wrong, but she hasn't made any headway with getting someone from the city to listen to her. So now, because of that disputed $435 the land was auctioned off and a private company has a lien against her for $43K. Click the link for more of the finer details.

· Lien Runneth Over [Investigative Voice]