New York Mayors Join Fight Against Zombie Properties

By Catherine Yang, Epoch Times

Sixteen mayors state-wise have joined Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in support of a bill against zombie properties, or abandoned lots or homes that end up burdening neighborhoods.

“Zombie properties put neighborhoods across New York State, from big cities to small towns, at risk,” Schneiderman stated. “Abandoned homes invite crime, lower property values, and place an undue burden on local governments.”

Schneiderman has proposed an Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act and the coalition of mayors are calling on the state legislative leaders to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

Mayors from Albany, Hornell, Amsterdam, Jamestown, Buffalo, Kingston, Elira, Lackawanna, Ithica, Newburgh, Incorporated Vilage of Hempstead, Niagra Falls, and Rochester signed a letter yesterday, stating that these properties bring “neighborhood blight.”

According to RealtyTrac, 15 percent of all New York State mortgages are these abandoned zombie properties.

“From vandalism to drug markets to plain unsightliness, this is a serious problem for all cities,” stated Rochester mayor Lovely Warren.

The bill proposed would mortgagers and loan services to identify and secure these properties earlier on, because the current law does not give a strict deadline. The bill would also try to prevent families from vacating their homes much earlier than they need to by requiring courts to give the homeowners a notice of their deadline.

Banks will also be required to maintain the state of the properties after foreclosure.

Niagara Falls mayor Paul Dyster noted in recent years many people had left the city, resulting in more vacant properties. “Often times, a bank will start a foreclosure process, but then not complete it because they don’t want to have responsibility for taking care of that property,” Dyster stated. “That’s just not fair, because the home then becomes the city’s problem.”