Today’s fatal fire at 447 N Lakewood Avenue is a tragic example of why the LLC transparency bill, introduced in the Maryland Legislature by Delegate Stephen Lafferty was so necessary. Yet it was shot down by delegates who perhaps put more importance on hiding the owners of LLCs than on their taxpaying constituents. (Link opens a PDF)
447 N Lakewood Avenue is owned by Marywood Real Estate Investors, LLC with an address of 550 M Ritchie Highway, #261, Severna Park, MD 21224. The resident agent’s name is Eric McPhee, a graduate of Mt. St. Mary’s. Sounds legit, right? Sounds worth protecting, at the expense of taxpayers, right?
The address is a UPS Store — a mail drop. There is no office, no nothing. Just a post office box. No phone, no email, no receptionist, nobody for residents or government officials to contact in case of emergency.
No problem, we can contact the Resident Agent, Mr. McPhee — even though he’s just there to be served with legal papers, surely we can contact him with any concerns, right?
Wrong. The resident agent’s address…is another UPS Store.
Maryland law dictates that a company must have a physical address in the state of Maryland, not a PO Box, not a mail drop — an actual physical location. Maryland law also dictates that the Resident Agent also must have a physical location where he or she can be served with legal papers — again, not a PO Box, and certainly not a mail drop at the local UPS Store.
Three people were taken to the hospital as a result of this fire, and one has died — a fire that happened in a house that this lawbreaking LLC owns. Maybe some good can come of this tragedy — maybe this can wake up a few delegates who need to remember that the taxpaying citizens of this state deserve protection from the predatory companies and negligent property owners that hide behind their shell LLCs and corporations — we deserve better than this, the residents of 447 N Lakewood Avenue deserved better.
Transparency and accountability in government and in business mean a stronger, better Maryland.