Deeds: Volunteers help Baltimoreans untangle titles, keep more homes from going vacant

The MVLS provides pro bono help to Marylanders who can’t afford an attorney for civil matters. In the last couple of years, it started providing advice on estates and help untangling titles to homes.

Column (Maryland)

Dan Rodricks
Baltimore Sun
January 24, 2020

Tags: Housing: Title, Seniors

Organizations mentioned/involved: Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS)


The MVLS says its volunteers helped 166 low-income Marylanders with title issues last year, 110 of them in Baltimore. The state Department of Housing and Community Development just granted the organization $200,000 to continue the program and expand outreach. Getting people to understand that they might have a problem — that the house they’re living in does not legally belong to them — is a big part of the challenge.

The MVLS has helped people with wills, briefed prospective homebuyers on the need for estate planning, and it now has a tangled-title attorney, Timothy Chance, on staff.

I’ve heard lawyers say that title work (reviewing property records to confirm ownership or discover liens and loans) is the most boring area of law. But untangling a mess so that someone can own grandma’s rowhouse and stay in the neighborhood — in Baltimore, with still too many vacants, that’s a real public service.