Nottingham, MD asked in Land Use & Zoning for Maryland

Q: Neighbor claims Right-of-Way, and blocks back yard driveways. How can I find out who legal owner of the road is?

He made another neighbor cut off about a two-foot section of their driveway because it was on his road. He is refusing access to this road. It is classified as a Right-of-way. He says he has a lawyer and is trying to make neighbors sign a form saying they will remove all encroachments and not trespass on his property (one foot of cement driveway, and access to their own yard because the gate opens onto his property, and the only way to the driveway is through his road). We asked for the paper to be signed be provided on company letterhead, but he refused. His lawyer sent a letter saying he reviewed the title and he is not aware of written or recorded document providing any rights to his client’s property. When we requested to see the paperwork and plat showing ownership of the road, he said he did not intend to share his work-product or title review. If this land owner is correctly claiming this property, why are his property taxes much lower than all others in the neighborhood?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Cedulie Renee Laumann
Cedulie Renee Laumann
  • Real Estate Law Lawyer
  • Crownsville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: To the question "How can I find out who legal owner of [a particular road or property] is?" A survey and/or a title search can usually answer the question. A title search goes through the land records and can reveal whether someone lawfully owns X sq. feet of land or show whether or not there is a recorded easement, but it may not answer the question of where exact boundary lines lie. A survey can stake out the property lines and identify where any recorded rights-of-way or other easements are located.

To the question "why are [someone's] property taxes much lower than all others in the neighborhood?" no one can realistically answer this question without looking in detail at the assessments. There are all sorts of reasons why assessments for some parcels might legitimately be lower than other parcels -- for instance, a conservation or forest easement tends to lower the assessed value, and the homestead tax credit will lower property taxes when property has been owned by the same owner for a long period of time. At the end of the day, though, the amount of a property tax bill has very little bearing on establishing what land someone does or doesn't own.

While not legal advice, I hope this helps address some of the general question(s).

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