By Eden Laikin
The rising tide of “Zombie Homes” – or abandoned, and foreclosed houses that create blights in neighborhoods across New York State, may become a thing of the past under new legislation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano joined Schneiderman on the front steps of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in Mineola today, to announce the legislation – and expansion, of the Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act.
According to the AG, zombie property foreclosures increased by almost 50% from 2013 to 2014, bringing the total number of zombie properties in NYS to 16,701. As a result, almost one in five residential foreclosures is now a zombie property.
On Long Island, the problem continues to grow with the number of zombie homes increasing by 62% between 2013 and 2014, bringing the total number to 4,048 – the highest in the state.
“Attorney General Schneiderman’s legislation will help our residents, communities and our local governments in many ways,” County Executive Mangano said. “Not only will it eliminate blight in the community, it will assist my administration in continuing to protecting our residents by requiring maintenance and restoration of abandoned properties that have become breeding grounds for mold, crime and a welcome mat for squatters.”
The bill requires that banks and mortgage servicers maintain vacant and abandoned residential properties throughout the foreclosure process, a responsibility that banks often neglect. Banks that fail to maintain the properties will be forced to pay stiff penalties that can then be used by localities to enhance their enforcement efforts under the Act.
The Schneiderman bill would require that homeowners be provided with early notice that they are legally entitled to remain in their homes until ordered to leave by a court. It would require mortgage lenders to take responsibility for properties soon after they have been vacated; help municipalities identify and secure zombie properties; require mortgagees or their agents to electronically register these properties with a newly-created statewide Vacant and Abandoned Property Registry; direct penalties for noncompliance into a fund for local municipalities to support code enforcement that addresses zombie properties within the municipality, and create an expedited foreclosure process for properties that are confirmed to be vacant.
Mangano thanked Attorney General Schneiderman for his efforts in helping to “protect our quality of life.”
Other key participants in this morning’s press event, included:
o Nassau County Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams
o NYS Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky
o NYS Assemblyman Charles Lavine
o Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray
o Michael Reid, Director of the Firefighters Association of the State of New York