BALTIMORE (WBFF) — It’s a warning that would rattle any homeowner.
“My hands were shaking,” said northeast Baltimore resident Ancilla Crawford, “I’m thinking, 'I can't just lose this home, how can they do this?'”
Recently found on Crawford’s front door was a tax sale certificate notifying her for the first time that her property had been pawned. The certificate indicates the sale took place last June to an out-of-town LLC for $12,000, leaving Crawford stunned and confused.
“What prompted it?” she said. “Because I'm paying my taxes. I'm paying the water bill. So, in my mind, everything is up to date.”
Not sure how this could have happened, Crawford took two days off work to sort things out with the city.
Officials inside the city’s municipal building revealed the lien on her home was triggered by an overdue lawn mowing bill. The only problem, Crawford doesn’t have a lawn.
“I told them, you know, this wasn't my property. This was an error,” she said.
Pictures of the grass the city was called out to cut show Crawford’s address on the sign, but the backyard is of the vacant house across the street.
“They had me going back and forth. I had to stand in line,” said Crawford.
After two days and hours of arguing with city services, Crawford says she was told the best way to make the problem go away was to pay the lawn mowing fee and reimburse her home’s buyer for a number of charges. In total, costing her nearly $2,900.
“It was really, really heart-wrenching,” she said.
Making matters worse, former federal and state prosecutor, Thiru Vignarajah says just a few doors down, a similar situation unfolded for 68-year-old Vanessa Wagner, whose home he helped save back in 2021.
“Here we are again,” he said, “How many times must we knock on the door of City Hall asking for some help?”
Vignarajah also questions how tax sales can be so easily sparked on these homes in Northeast Baltimore, when homes in higher priced parts of the city with unpaid fines for higher amounts go untouched. Including, the Guilford home of Gov. Wes Moore, where at one point, years’ worth of unpaid water bills racked up an outstanding balance of $21,000.
“Do we have different rules for how we dispense with residential properties in Guilford versus Northeast Baltimore?” asked Vignarajah, “Because I don’t get these calls from property owners in Guildford or Roland Park or Locus Point.”
WBFF has notified the city’s housing authority about this incident and asked if they plan to reimburse Crawford. As of the time this article was published, they’re still investigating the situation.