Assemblywoman Woerner: New Law Protects Homeowners and Addresses ‘Zombie’ Properties

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) announced legislation she voted for to protect homeowners’ rights and combat the rise of abandoned residential properties, also known as zombie homes, was signed into law by the governor.

“Our neighborhoods are exceptional places to live, in large part because of their historic properties and unmatched scenery. Zombie homes are not only an eyesore, they drive down property values and threaten our quality of life in Saratoga and Washington counties,” said Woerner. “This new law will protect homeowners, hold lenders accountable, and make it easier for neighbors to report zombie homes.”

In an effort to reduce the number of zombie properties, the new law will hold banks responsible for maintaining abandoned homes, even when a foreclosure action is pending. It will also create a statewide registry and toll-free hotline to report zombie homes and require periodic inspections to determine where vacant properties exist. Local governments will be empowered to enforce the law and fine lenders up to $500 per day for failing to maintain vacant properties.

The law will require courts to provide a consumer bill of rights to homeowners facing foreclosure, helping to ensure they are aware of their right to continue living in their homes until a foreclosure is finalized. Additionally, the measure also strengthens homeowners’ protections during court proceedings and imposes financial sanctions against lenders that do not make good faith efforts to resolve mortgage foreclosure actions.

New York State has the second-highest number of vacant “zombie” foreclosures, burdening local taxpayers who must bear the costs associated with these abandoned homes. Locally, there are nearly 140 foreclosed properties in Washington County, and another 86 in Saratoga County, Woerner noted.