The State of New York doubling down in its efforts to fight back against the rising tide of zombie properties, which are homes that are vacant or abandoned during the foreclosure process.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Monday that he plans to resubmit an expanded version of a bill he first introduced in 2014 to the state legislature. Schneiderman’s bill, called the Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act, is designed to reduce the number of zombie homes by informing homeowners of their right to stay in their home until a court orders them to leave.
According to Schneiderman’s office, the bill will also require mortgage lenders and servicers to identify, secure and maintain vacant and abandoned properties shortly after they are abandoned. Under current state law, lenders and servicers aren’t required to secure and maintain vacant properties until the end of the foreclosure process.
The bill would also create a statewide registry of zombie properties, designed to help local governments with the enforcement of property maintenance laws.
Additionally, if Schneiderman’s bill becomes law, any fines levied against banks, lenders or servicers for violations of the state’s abandoned property laws would be directed into a fund, which would be used by local governments to hire additional code enforcement officers.
“Leaving zombie properties to rot is unfair to municipalities and unfair to neighbors, who pay their taxes and maintain their homes. In the next two weeks, my office will resubmit to the Legislature our bill that would require banks to take responsibility for maintaining properties much earlier in the foreclosure process, take that burden off of towns and cities, and allow local governments to more easily identify the mortgagees of these properties to make sure they maintain them,” Schneiderman said.
“And as my office enforces the requirement that banks take responsibility for these properties, any fines we levy will go into a fund to help towns and cities hire more code enforcement officers.”
Schneiderman cited the drastic increase of zombie properties in New York in 2014 as one of the main reasons for putting the legislature forward now.