New State Law to Combat Zombie Home Problem

While standing in front of a zombie home in Carmel, Sen. Terrence Murphy discusses new legislation designed to curtail the zombie home problem as Sen. Jeff Klein (center) and Supervisor Ken Schmitt. Credits: Photo Courtesy of Senator Terrence Murphy

MAHOPAC, N.Y.— The state assembly has passed a law that will hold banks accountable and streamline the foreclosure process so local blights such as zombie homes (neglected homes under foreclosure) can become thriving pieces of local neighborhoods.

Sen. Terrence Murphy teamed with Sen. Jeff Klein of the Bronx to sponsor the legislation and bring attention to the growing zombie home invasion within the 40th Senate District.

Murphy said that zombie homes have been "terrorizing" neighborhoods and frustrating homeowners for years. The law, he said, will help change that.

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“Earlier this year we unveiled a report showing a depreciation of more than $6 million in property values due to these so-called 'zombie' properties,” Murphy said. “These properties not only prove to devalue neighboring parcels but pose real dangers to our kids. The new laws we passed finally hold big banks accountable to properly care for and maintain the properties under their ownership instead of letting them deteriorate into zombie properties.”

Under new legislation approved earlier this year, banks and mortgage servicing companies will be required to maintain any houses that are abandoned before or while the lenders foreclose on them. The law also establishes a daily fine of $500 if banks do not comply with the new reporting requirements. The law includes an expedited foreclosure process for abandoned properties.

“Sadly, many homeowners were not able to keep up with their mortgage payments due to the financial recession resulting in the loss of their homes,” said Supervisor Ken Schmitt, who has noted that Carmel/Mahopac has had to cope with its own zombie home issues. “This new law allows Carmel to hire a contractor to clean up and maintain the property without impacting the town-wide operating budget. This is definitely a win-win for our town and any neighborhood with neglected properties because now the abandoned property will be cleaned up at no additional cost to local taxpayers.”

To report zombie properties, can call the new hotline: 1-800-342-3736.

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