At a minimum they’re eyesores for a community that deplete surrounding property values, but all too often foreclosed and unmaintained residences are being used for squatting or worse, like criminal activity such as vandalism or drug dealing.

The reason these properties are disregarded is often due to red tape and length of time required by banks to complete mortgage foreclosure proceedings on abandoned establishments.

On Wednesday, Dec. 18, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Zombie Property Remediation Act of 2019, which allows municipalities to better address zombie properties – empty or abandoned buildings and land under foreclosure – by authorizing local governments to compel mortgage lenders to either complete a mortgage foreclosure proceeding or to issue a certificate of discharge of the mortgage for any abandoned property.

"Zombie properties are plaguing communities all across our state, driving down property values and burdening our taxpayers," Cuomo said. "By making it easier for local municipalities to deal with these abandoned and unmaintained properties, we are helping to preserve homes and protect the quality of life in our neighborhoods."

Zombie properties can sit in legal limbo for years, the governor’s office said, sometimes deteriorating to the point of necessary demolition while the mortgage lender fails to complete processes. The new law makes it easier for municipalities to reclaim and redevelop zombie properties in order to return them to the property tax rolls.

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