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City resident gets bizarre bill for property registration

Alex Koblansky was surprised when he opened his mail last weekend and discovered that the city of Baltimore wanted him to pay $25 to register a property he didn't own. With an address that doesn't exist.

The city requires registration of non-owner-occupied homes, but Koblansky occupies the only one he owns, a Federal Hill home he purchased in May. So he could be pretty certain the bill was a mistake -- especially since the address apparently in need of registration was "1800 L Dham St."

He walked to the city's housing agency on Monday to try to get the problem resolved, but 10 or 15 people were ahead of him and he couldn't wait that long. He noticed others with the same registration form and wondered if they had bills for phantom properties, too.

"I am assuming people are going to tend to just pay this bill versus go through the hassle of getting the right answer," he said.

Cheron Porter, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Housing, the city's housing agency, checked out Koblansky's bill. "It was a mistake -- clearly," she said. "We apologize for any confusion and we'll be sending that gentleman a letter, a correction.”

She said she's not aware of others with the same problem. But anyone with a problematic registration bill can email, she said.

“When you're doing something that's automated and goes to 50,000 people, inevitably there will be some mistakes," she said.

It wasn't Koblansky's first wrong bill from the city. He was one of the thousands of recent home buyers who received notices this summer from the tax collectors telling them -- in error -- that they were overdue on property taxes for the last fiscal year.

"That was a fun day," he said.

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