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Lawmakers Spar Over Zombie Properties Legislation

abandoned zombie home

abandoned zombie homeRepublican lawmakers are questioning the impact of a recent bill related to Zombie properties that was passed by the New York State Senate and Assembly. Specifically, they want to know more about its effect on the state's current foreclosure process.

The Post-Journal reported [1] the bill, which was sponsored by Assemblyman William Magnarelli, D-Syracuse, stipulates that if a property has been deemed vacant, a municipality can begin a legal proceeding to compel banks to begin foreclosure within three months and meet all deadlines to make sure the case is resolved within a year.

Additionally, it said that if a foreclosure case on the abandoned property has begun, the bank must file the necessary motions and within three months file paperwork to move the case to judicial foreclosure or issue a certificate of discharge within three months and file a satisfaction of the mortgage with the appropriate local offices.

Republicans also raised issues related to the Community Reinvestment Act and the state’s Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Act that would be impacted by the passage of this bill, according to The Post-Journal. The report quoted Assemblyman Andrew Raia, R-Northport asking if banks would be able to meet the timelines laid out for them in the Zombie Property Remediation Act while living up to the Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention Act, especially given that New York has the longest foreclosure process in the country.

State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown also questioned the ability of the municipality to bring an action before the bank has even begun the foreclosure process "or if the property is abandoned but not in default because the mortgage is still being paid." He also said it is "time for the state Legislature to rewrite the state’s foreclosure laws so that the system works for someone other than real estate attorneys."

The New York State Senate and Assembly recently passed legislation aimed at solving the state's zombie homes problem. According to The Post-Journal, the bill titled "Zombie Property Remediation Act of 2019" was approved 122-24 on the floor of the state Assembly and 48-14 by the state Senate in June. It is now awaiting Gov. Andrew Cuomo's approval before it becomes a law.