What kind of mysterious notice are we facing?
November 22, 2010 7:58 AM   Subscribe

Just curious: what kind of notice would be posted on someone's door that was NOT from a bank?

We currently rent a single-family home, and are in the process of making arrangements to move, as our landlord has informed us he is trying to sell the home through a short sale. (Whether he can actually do that, I'm not sure, as this house isn't his primary residence and he's already faced foreclosure on several other rental properties).

Today, a gentleman rang the bell and asked for the homeowner by name. My husband told him that that was our landlord and that he didn't live there. The man thanked us and headed quickly back to his car, typing something on his phone. My husband called out and asked if there was a message he could pass along, and the man said "No, a notice will be posted on the door tomorrow." My husband half-jokingly asked, "It's not an eviction notice, is it?" The man, friendly enough, kind of chuckled and said "No...it's not from the bank."

So, though we'll probably find out tomorrow, my curiosity is getting the better of me and I'd love to know what this notice might be. In case it makes a difference: (1) we're in Prince George's County, Maryland; (2) the man was professionally dressed and seemed to have some kind of document with him when he came by; (3) the house is only a few years old and definitely not being condemned; (4) we have made all payments to our landlord so there's no way we're facing eviction; (5) last year, our landlord got an extension on the interest-only portion of his mortgage, and I know our payment amount more than covers it -- whether he's paying it is a different story, though court records in our state do not indicate this house is facing foreclosure. When informing us of his intent to pursue a short sale through a broker, the landlord did specifically state this house was not "in distress," though we know a bank would not approve a short sale just for kicks.

So...any ideas of what kind of not-issued-by-a-bank notice would be posted on the door, even when said poster knows that the homeowner does not live here?
posted by justonegirl to Grab Bag (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The man may have been a process server trying to serve notice of foreclosure on the property owner.
posted by de void at 7:59 AM on November 22, 2010

Would the city post a notice of back taxes owed if they've been unable to reach the owner?
posted by cosmicbandito at 8:02 AM on November 22, 2010

Notice of water / gas / electrical shut off? Does the landlord pay any utilities directly (or possibly not pay, in this case)?
posted by true at 8:02 AM on November 22, 2010

Would it be possible that the house is facing an eminent domain claim? When my aunt's house was torn down for an interstate offramp, I remember they alerted her via paper-on-door. Of course, this is after she stubbornly refused to sell for almost a year leading up to it.
posted by banannafish at 8:05 AM on November 22, 2010

Could have been a process server trying to serve for pretty much any civil matter.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:08 AM on November 22, 2010

Hmm...interesting answers so far. I know so little about foreclosure but assumed there'd be some court records posted online if that were the case. Back taxes could be a possibility, I guess. We pay all our utilities directly and they're all current. They definitely wouldn't be looking to claim our land to build something else, as we're in a big old subdivision that was constructed a few years ago.
posted by justonegirl at 8:10 AM on November 22, 2010

Could be a housing inspector. If neighbours complain, they seem to always be able to find something to cite you for.
posted by QIbHom at 8:12 AM on November 22, 2010

We got notices on our doors in a few-house radius when they were looking for houses to film in, as well as houses with driveways where they could set up the catering tents.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:12 AM on November 22, 2010

Is the house in a neighborhood with a Home Owner's Association? It's possible that there's some violation and they wanted to discuss it with the HO before they posted an official warning.
posted by muddgirl at 8:16 AM on November 22, 2010

My husband is a process server. He doesn't leave official documents on the door (although he might leave a "We tried to deliver a package" sticker from a phony courier company -- that works sometimes).
posted by vickyverky at 8:17 AM on November 22, 2010

tax lien. can post notice on the property in many jurisdictions. however, I have not researched the law in maryland on this matter, so I cannot speak with authority. this is not legal advice as you do not have a matter that may require legal action presented to you yet. I am a maryland attorney, I am not your attorney.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:19 AM on November 22, 2010

Could be almost anything. Possibilities:

- A tax collector.
- A utility employee (could be in the process of exercising easement rights for construction).
- A code enforcement agent (could be anything).
- A process server (either for the landlord or for the business entity through which your landlord controls the house.)
- Someone from the neighborhood/homeowner's association (which may have a thing about rentals).
- A collection agent (could be placing a mechanic's lien on the house for work done before you showed up).

Of course, odds are about 100% that you'll learn what's going on when the notice is posted tomorrow.
posted by valkyryn at 8:21 AM on November 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

This link might help you to check back taxes.
posted by Lucinda at 8:23 AM on November 22, 2010

Foreclosure and condemnation are the only things I know of that are ever posted on somebody's door. My house was a short sale and the foreclosure notice to the previous owner was posted on the door one day while I was at work (long story short: I moved in before I actually owned the house.) So my guess is that it is indeed a foreclosure notice.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:27 AM on November 22, 2010

Thanks, everyone, for the ideas so far. I guess I was a little surprised that the person wanted to come back tomorrow to post something on the door (that we obviously will remove as soon as it's posted) rather than just leaving whatever it was in our hands today. I appreciate the feedback!
posted by justonegirl at 8:31 AM on November 22, 2010

Our landlord has a problem paying the water bills on time and we receive shut-off notices taped to the front door periodically (which always results in payment). I have never seen them be delivered but I assume they would be by a uniformed utility worker.
posted by proj at 9:00 AM on November 22, 2010

Neither of these fit your case, but a house across the street from me was empty for a while and there was a notice saying it had been "winterized" ... all the utilities and everything dealt with so pipes wouldn't burst in the winter while unoccupied and stuff. I gather by city code empty houses must have a winterization notice posted, and then code enforcement knows not to ticket them for being "abandoned" and to look for certain things instead of other things.

A house down the street had a major house fire about two weeks ago; the fire chief came back a couple days later and posted a notice of some sort in the front window. I assume it's a similar kind of thing, saying what's going on with the house and why code enforcement shouldn't ticket them. Or possibly because there's an ongoing investigation into the cause.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:14 AM on November 22, 2010

(that we obviously will remove as soon as it's posted)

My apartment building has water and electric shut off notices posted on it every few months and it specifically states that its against the law for anyone but the company to take down the notice. My landlord does anyway, but just a heads-up to read the thing thoroughly.
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:32 AM on November 22, 2010

Plenty of kinds of legal notices get posted on doors! It seems archaic, but it's actually one of the better ways to get in touch with the homeowner, and it's encouraged by the US Supreme Court as a way to ensure due process in matters involving real estate.
posted by yarly at 10:28 AM on November 22, 2010

Utility shut-off warning.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:30 AM on November 22, 2010

A process server in some jurisidictions cannot just leave papers after the first try. Sometimes they need to come back a second or third time and only then can they post it on the door (and usually follow up with a second copy in the mail) to complete service.
posted by Brian Puccio at 12:25 PM on November 22, 2010

My husband and I bought a foreclosed townhome. For the first few months we kept getting official-looking "notices" on our door containing scary language about how the home was foreclosed and we were trespassing by being there and how we needed to call Such & Such Law Firm RIGHT NOW to handle our situation. It was just scummy marketing tactic that some local law firms were using, operating off some public information foreclosures list.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:21 PM on November 22, 2010

Years ago a co-worker of mine (when I worked for a bank) had a mortgage on a house, which he then rented on to a third party. Problem was, this was a discount rate mortage, specifically designed for bank employees, to finance their primary property (ie, the house they lived in). It was a significant discount, and a "perk" of employment past 5 years. However it was stated quite clearly in your employment contract that any house with such a discount mortgage was NOT to be rented out.

Well, this co-worker (Larry was his name IIRC) was still living at home with mum and dad, so he bought a house, financed it with the employee discount mortgage, and rented it out to some random family who he'd never met (he rented it through an agent). About six months after the sale, an agent of the bank turned up on the front door, asking to speak with Larry. Of course the renter had never heard of him. "Larry who?".

The next day Larry was approached at work by two burly security guards and escorted out of the building after cleaning out his desk. The tenants were informed by a "notice on the door" that they had to vacate the premises within a certain period of time, as their lease was void as the bank now owned the property and not Larry, and their lease was with Larry, not the bank.

Scary stuff! I'm hoping that it's not something like that.
posted by humpy at 6:40 PM on November 22, 2010

I've found one on my door that the city stuck there, telling us that they needed to come by to do something or other with the sewage line. I don't know why he wouldn't've just stuck it on the door, or told you, though.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:01 PM on November 23, 2010

Well, turns out it was the HOA. Apparently the homeowner neglected to pay some annual utility-related fee and now they're trying to collect 25 years' worth of that fee (ouch!). Thanks again, everyone, for speculating. :)
posted by justonegirl at 8:16 AM on November 24, 2010

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