Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Legislation to clean up zombie properties signed into law

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Legislation to address the state's zombie properties -- 303 have been identified on Staten Island -- and to establish the Community Restoration Fund, was recently signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Sen. Diane Savino. (D-North Shore/Brooklyn), along with Bronx Sen. Jeffrey Klein, championed legislation to protect neighboring home values while ensuring the speedy rehabilitation of properties.

"This is a great day for the people of New York City, especially my constituents living in Staten Island and Brooklyn who've been dealing with this issue for far too long," said Savino.

The legislation comes on the heels of a new study that revealed that Staten Island is home to 303 zombie homes, which has resulted in plummeting property values of privately-owned homes in surrounding neighborhoods by $50.7 million.

The study, "The Next Great American Bank Robbery" -- launched by the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) -- highlights financial and societal problems caused by zombie properties, which are those homes left to decay in the middle of the foreclosure process.

The zombie homes negatively affect property values of an estimated 9,311 neighboring properties.

"Just like every homeowner has a duty to maintain his or her property, banks need to do the same so that nearby residents aren't forced to deal with the blight of unmaintained properties and falling property values," said Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore/Brooklyn).

"We've experienced a surge in this problem since the devastation of Sandy, adding to the frustration of so many people who worked so hard to get their homes back into shape," she added.


According to the study, the Staten Island zip code with the most zombie homes is 10306, where there are 47 abandoned properties, and the median house value is $449,400. The overall home depreciation in this zip code is $7.1 million.

The zip code with the least amount of zombie properties was 10307, where there were six of these homes. The median house value in that zip code is $571,200, and the total depreciation due to abandoned homes is $1.2 million.


The new legislation calls for the following:

To address the zombie property blight, banks will now have to maintain vacant and abandoned properties.
A new toll-free hotline will allow people to report potentially vacant or abandoned sites, and an electronic database will provide streamlined access to information for affected communities.
An expedited foreclosure process will protect neighboring homes while improvements to mandatory settlement conferences will protect homeowners facing foreclosure.
The establishment of a Consumer Bill of Rights will inform property owners of their rights in foreclosure proceedings.


Savino and Klein introduced the legislation to establish the New York State Community Restoration Fund. This will help those homeowners who are delinquent, at risk of entering default, or may have already fallen into foreclosure due to economic hardship, said Savino.

The fund authorizes the State of New York Mortgage Agency to utilize fund resources to rehabilitate distressed properties, demolish homes that are dilapidated beyond repair, and fund not-for-profit and affordable housing developers, in order to address the foreclosure crisis, repurpose or rehabilitate foreclosed or vacant properties into affordable housing, and keep families in their homes.


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