State makes some progress on tracking zombie properties


The state has reached an agreement with 11 large mortgage lenders to better maintain foreclosed properties.

The lenders make up 70 percent of the mortgage market in New York, according to a press release sent out yesterday by Governor Andrew Cuomo's Office. The mortgage companies have promised to make sure that the properties under their control are safe and properly maintained. 

Under the agreement, the lenders will regularly inspect properties that "fall into delinquency" to determine whether they are vacant or abandoned — those buildings are commonly known as zombie properties. If the properties are vacant or abandoned, the lenders will report that information to the State Department of Financial Services, which will keep a registry of those properties. The information will also be shared with local government officials so they and the state can direct the lending companies to take action on maintenance issues.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has advocated, unsuccessfully so far, for legislation that would hold all foreclosing mortgage lenders to similar requirements.

Locally, Irondequoit officials have been developing a law that would require any owner of a vacant building — not just foreclosures — to register the property with the town.

During a February public hearing, Irondequoit Police Chief Richard Tantalo said that town police officers are often called to vacant properties for safety issues or for possible illegal activity. Often, the properties need to be secured by the owner, but officers have difficulty tracking that person or company down.