Tax Sale Coordination and Prevention Services

Tax Sale Coordination and Prevention Services assist homeowners in avoiding tax sale and in understanding and navigating the tax sale process.

What is a Tax Sale?

Each year in May, Baltimore City sells homeowners’ unpaid city bills (liens) to outside bidders who then charge interest and fees, allowable under state law, to property owners.

An owner-occupied property is eligible for tax sale (also known as a tax lien certificate sale) if the combined total of its city liens is $750.00 or more. For non-owner-occupied properties the threshold is $250.00 or more. These liens include but are not limited to unpaid real property taxes, special benefits assessments, alley and footway paving bills, streetscape, minor privilege, multi-family dwelling, clean and board, water, environmental control, and residential registration charges and fees.  

What Can I Do to Avoid or Reduce Risk of a Tax Sale?

2019 Baltimore Tax Sale Clinics

Homeowners who are behind in property taxes or water bills, who have received notices from the Department of Finance or Department of Health, or who otherwise believe they are at risk of tax sale, may receive free legal consultation and assistance by attending a tax sale clinic.  Four clinics are being held in March and April at different times in different city locations. To register or learn more, please call the ProBono Resource Center at 443-703-3052.

Homeowners can also reduce their risk of entering tax sale by using state and city tax credits and other resources that lower household expenses.

A few of the most helpful resources are:

Maryland Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit

This State of Maryland program sets a limit on the amount of property taxes a homeowner must pay based upon his or her income. If the homeowner is paying more than the set limit, the property tax is reduced accordingly. (Homeowners must apply every year for this credit.)

Maryland Homestead Tax Credit

To help homeowners deal with large assessment increases on their principal residence, state law has established the Homestead Property Tax Credit. In Baltimore this credit limits the increase in taxable assessments each year to 4%. (A homeowner has to successfully apply only once for this credit; it is thereafter applied every year.)

Department of Public Works Discount Programs

Water bills must be delinquent for at least 3 quarters to be considered as part of a property’s lien total. If an owner-occupied property’s only unpaid bill is a delinquent water bill, the property will not be eligible for tax sale. To avoid delinquency, DPW offers multiple discount programs for low-income and elderly residents.

Other DPW Water-Billing Programs to Assist Residents


To learn more or to schedule a community-based information session, please contact Michael O'Leary, Tax Sale Services Coordinator:

michael.o'[email protected]

Additional Resources

Baltimore City Department of Finance Tax Sale Information
2019 Tax Sale FAQs