For Immediate Release
December 19, 2019
Mayor Madden Announces Successful Prosecution of “Zombie Property” Enforcement Case
Court imposes $78,400 civil penalty against mortgage lender Selene Finance, LP for failure to maintain 42 Fifth Avenue in Troy’s North Central neighborhood
Successful prosecution part of City’s ongoing Zombie Enforcement program to achieve compliance from mortgage lenders with zombie properties in Troy
Mayor Madden: successful resolution of case sends strong signal to mortgage lenders of City’s commitment to combating vacant zombie properties
TROY, NY – Mayor Patrick Madden today announced the successful prosecution of another “zombie property” case against an unresponsive financial lender operating in the Collar City. On December 13th, a court decision imposed a $78,400 civil penalty against Selene Finance, LP, a Houston, TX-based mortgage company regarding 42 Fifth Avenue in Troy’s North Central neighborhood. As part of the decision, the Court also ordered the lender to bring the property into code compliance within 60 days.
The property has been vacant for approximately 18 months following a fire. During the summer of 2019, the City determined that the property was properly classified and registered as a Zombie Property, and commenced enforcement under the New York State Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law in September 2019.
Mayor Madden said, “The successful resolution of this case sends a strong signal to mortgage lenders that Troy is committed to holding them accountable for maintaining Zombie properties, and following through on foreclosures. The importance of these actions is more than about collecting penalties – it is about removing blighting influences from Troy neighborhoods.”
A “zombie property” is one in which a lender has commenced a foreclosure action against a property owner, which is subsequently abandoned and vacated by the owner pending the completion of the foreclosure process. While the foreclosure is pending, achieving code compliance becomes more difficult with an absentee owner, a large problem facing communities for years throughout New York State and nationwide.
In 2016, New York State adopted the “Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act” which requires banks and other mortgagees to secure and maintain vacant one-to-four family houses during the foreclosure process or face a potential penalty of up to $500 per day for each violation cited.
Troy began enforcement against Zombie properties in 2018, supported by a $250,000 grant from the New York State Attorney General’s office, which provided funding for a code enforcement officer and outside legal counsel dedicated to zombie enforcement.
To date, the grant has resulted in compliance and civil penalties on properties located at 4 Lark Street and 771 Third Avenue in the amount of $29,000. Through its enforcement actions, the City also successfully intervened to have the vacant property at 3325 6th Avenue saved from demolition. Several other properties are currently being pursued through Troy’s Zombie Property Enforcement Initiative.
“Funding from the State Attorney General’s office has given the City the resources necessary to require lenders to secure and maintain the properties, promptly complete their foreclosures and return zombie properties to productive residential use,” added Mayor Madden. “We thank Attorney General James for continuing to fund this important program which helps improve neighborhoods and restore long-vacant buildings to active use.”
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John Salka, Deputy Director of Public Information
[email protected] / (518) 279-7131