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The Lien Certificate is a document that confirms MUNICIPAL CHARGES that are due to the City. It informs the CLOSING of a piece of real estate and accompanies our Deed to the Clerk’s office as we seek to effectuate a transfer.

We order a lot of Lien Certificates. They cost $55. They are printed on blue paper. They used to take 5 business days; now they take at least 5 weeks. They used to come with supporting documents -- now they don’t.

The origin of the LIEN CERTIFICATE is Baltimore City Code, Article 28, Taxes, Subtitle 2-1, Lien Certificates.

The law states that Director of Finance is authorized to create the “Bureau of Liens, where there shall be collected, upon application…a record of kind and amount of all municipal charges and assessments affecting real estate."

The law authorizes a “Chief Clerk” and “1 other competent person.” The Chief Clerk is responsible for “systematic and reliable” data and issuance of a certificate showing “plainly and accurately” the charges and assessments due against a piece of City real estate.

Why this is critical:


“No written instrument intended to effect a transfer of any estate … shall be presented for recordation until” the presenter “procure a certificate” and “exhibit evidence” that all “due and payable liens reflected on the said certificate have been paid in full.”

We are wondering if a Chief Clerk is still on the job, and further if they have “1 other competent person” and if one person is enough given the responsibility?

If you are a Buyer or Seller of Baltimore City property, you will face uncertainty and have money put in escrow at closing due to this component of the transfer process being unreliable.


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