As now reported in many state newspapers, new state legislation, passed in the early hours of Saturday morning, has to do with homes that have become so-called zombie properties – empty houses stuck in sometimes-lengthy foreclosure and prone to falling into disrepair.
In a press release issued by the Assembly on June 17:
- impose a statewide duty of a mortgage lender or bank owner, or their agent, to maintain vacant one to four family residential real property, even while a foreclosure action is pending;
- require periodic inspections to determine whether properties have been abandoned;
- create penalties against mortgage lenders of up to $500 per property per day for failure to maintain these "Zombie" properties;
- authorize municipalities to enforce the maintenance provisions of the law;
- create a statewide registry for abandoned residential property under the supervision of the state Department of Financial Services, and a toll-free hotline for community residents to report the presence of such properties;
- make available to public officials of local governments the information in the zombie property registry, in order to help them better evaluate and remedy blight in their neighborhoods; and
- require the court to give homeowners in foreclosures a consumer bill of rights that the department of financial services would publish in consultation with all stakeholders."