Some common terms used in this blog and their definitions.  Please be advised, we are not attorneys and not qualified to give legal advice.  If you are in a dispute with a landlord or property owner, you are free to take advantages of any of the resources provided, but you are doing so at your own risk.  The definitions on this page are general, and may not apply to your local jurisdiction.


What turns a property owner into a slumlord?  A slumlord is someone who owns derelict property that causes health and safety concerns for the tenants and surrounding neighbors.

Some of these concerns/issues are (but are not limited to):

1. Structurally unsound exterior surfaces (including roof, walls, etc).

2. Lack of potable/running water, adequate sanitation facilities, adequate water or waste pipe connections.  Lack of acceptable means to dispose of construction debris, if the property is being developed.

3. Hazardous electrical systems or gas connections.

4. Accumulation of trash and debris (human and/or animal), drug paraphrenalia, etc.


Right of redemption is the right of the borrower (the person who took out the mortgage on a property) to “redeem” the property by paying what is owed to the lender plus any outstanding fees and costs.


A government can take property ownership rights away when it is determined that the property is unsafe.  Upon this determination, there will usually be a condemnation hearing in court. Please note:  “condemnation” is not the same thing as “demolition”.


Under control of a receiver, usually appointed by a court.  Being under receivership means the control of the company or property is no longer with the owners.


Exposure to lead can cause brain damage and impair learning in children, and these conditions cannot be reversed.  They are generally caused by exposure to lead paint, either through inhaling paint dust or eating peeling or chipped paint.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has an excellent definition and information on testing for lead paint in your home — please read it.


Many properties in Baltimore are subject to ground rent.  In other words, you might own the structure, but not the land it’s sitting on (the “ground”).  That is owned by someone else, and you may owe them money.  Research any home carefully before buying it to make sure you won’t owe ground rent payments.  It’s an arcane system that dates back to the 1700s, and started in England.  Live Baltimore has more information on ground rent here.  The Baltimore Sun did an excellent series on people who were losing their homes as a result of not making their ground rent payments.


A registered agent is someone who is appointed by a corporation to receive summonses or other legal documents on behalf of the corporation.


Any structure that is deemed unsafe and unfit for human habitation.