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Attorney General takes on zombie properties in NYC, state

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is taking on zombie foreclosures.Spencer Platt, Getty Images

There are zombies among us, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman wants the state to keep track of how many.

Zombie foreclosures, that is. Schneiderman said Monday he plans to reintroduce a bill in Albany later this month that will address the state’s problem of abandoned homes not being maintained during extended foreclosures.

A home becomes a zombie foreclosure when a bank starts the foreclosure process and the homeowner vacates. The limbo that follows -- the home falling into disrepair, squatters moving in and the bank failing to maintain -- is what makes a zombie foreclosure.

The New York City area had 3,525 residential zombie foreclosures in 2014, according to the attorney general’s office and data from Realty Trac. These properties can fall into disrepair, increase crime and decrease property values, according to Schneiderman. And, too many homeowners don’t know they have the right to stay in their home until the foreclosure is complete.

A attorney general’s spokesperson said their office isn’t sure of which neighborhoods in New York City have the most zombie houses because the foreclosures are tracked by region, not by county or neighborhood. The bill, called the Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act, would create a tracking system to monitor foreclosures locally, and require banks to maintain properties earlier in the foreclosure process.

Last year, the New York Post reported top neighborhoods for zombie homes included East New York and St. Albans.

Enforcement penalties would fund more local code enforcement officers, according to the attorney general’s office.

These types of foreclosures increased by 50 percent in 2014, with a total of 16,700 zombie foreclosures. The majority of these properties are in northern and central New York State, where nearly half of all the foreclosures are abandoned before the court proceedings finish.

“Leaving zombie properties to rot is unfair to municipalities and unfair to neighbors, who pay their taxes and maintain their homes,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

New York was the third highest state with zombie foreclosures for the first quarter of 2015, according to a Realty Trac report released earlier this month. The total number of zombie foreclosures in the Metro area was 19,177, according to the report

 
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