Mayor Madden: City Continues to Make Progress in Prosecuting Zombie Property Cases
City receives $90,000 in civil penalties for three open zombie enforcement cases with residential and commercial mortgage lender PHH Mortgage/Ocwen Financial Corporation for failure to maintain 719 4th Avenue, 132 1st Street, and 17 Prospect Street
Troy’s Zombie Enforcement Initiative has obtained civil penalties from mortgage lenders totaling over $190,000 during the last two years (2019-2020) and foreclosure of 3 properties
Mayor Madden: Troy’s zombie enforcement efforts continue to hold mortgage lenders responsible as part of administration’s ongoing effort to improve neighborhood quality of life for Troy residents & families
TROY, NY – Mayor Patrick Madden today announced court awards on several “zombie property” cases by Troy’s Zombie Enforcement Initiative involving an unresponsive financial lender in the Collar City. PHH Mortgage/Ocwen Financial Corporation has agreed to pay approximately $90,000 to resolve past violations initiated by the City against PHH/Ocwen for failing to maintain three properties (719 4th Avenue, 132 1st Street, and 17 Prospect Street), while a fourth property they oversaw was demolished (184 3rd Street).
These awards help the City move PHH/Ocwen towards the completion of the foreclosure process, allowing them to be sold to responsible property owners. Settlements will also be used to supplement future demolitions of unsafe properties by the City.
Mayor Madden said, “The success of our enforcement efforts involving zombie properties in our community puts pressure on these financial institutions to complete the foreclosure proceedings on these vacant properties. Our commitment to resolving these cases will ensure these properties are restored to active use, helping to fight blight and improve quality of life in Troy’s neighborhoods. I commend Eric Ferraro, the City’s Zombie Enforcement officer, the Bureau of Code Enforcement, and Commissioner of Planning Steve Strichman for their hard work as well as the neighborhood-based Zombie Task Force for their support in our prosecution efforts.”
To date, the City’s Zombie Enforcement Initiative has obtained code compliance, foreclosures, a demolition and settlements involving civil penalties with mortgage lenders totaling over $190,000. Enforcement and compliance actions are currently being pursued against several other properties through Troy’s zombie property enforcement efforts.
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 completion of the foreclosure process. While foreclosure is pending, achieving code compliance becomes more difficult with an absentee owner. This is a significant problem facing communities for years across 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. The grant provided funding for an additional code enforcement officer and outside legal counsel dedicated exclusively to zombie enforcement efforts in Troy’s neighborhoods. The funds were also used to purchase handheld mobile devices for use by Code Enforcement to allow real-time tracking of vacant building information.
“Support from New York State has been critical to the success of Troy’s zombie enforcement efforts,” added Mayor Madden. “We appreciate the continued support from Governor Cuomo, the Office of the State Attorney General, state legislative representatives, and staff for their ongoing commitment to providing local municipalities the funding we need to confront zombie properties and hold mortgage lenders accountable.”
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John Salka, Deputy Director of Public Information
[email protected] / (518) 279-7131