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Lesniak Bill To Expedite Foreclosure Proceedings On Abandoned Homes Advances

Measure Part of a Larger Package to Address New Jersey Foreclosure Crisis

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Raymond J. Lesniak which would create an expedited process for lenders to foreclose on abandoned, dilapidated properties was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 35-2. The measure is part of a larger legislative package sponsored by Senator Lesniak to address New Jersey’s foreclosure crisis.

“New Jersey is second-worst in the nation – behind only Florida – in the number of seriously delinquent home loans which are at risk of foreclosure,” said Senator Lesniak, D-Union. “The worsening foreclosure crisis is exacerbated by the number of homes which sit abandoned, awaiting official foreclosure action, and reducing residential property values in the surrounding area in the meantime. Through this legislation, we hope to reduce the timetable for turning these homes around, reducing urban and suburban blight and transforming these properties into livable homes.”

The bill, S-2156, would establish an expedited foreclosure procedure for abandoned residential properties which have fallen into disrepair. Under the bill, lenders would be able to bring summary actions to foreclose mortgages on vacant and abandoned residential property. Senator Lesniak said that the goal of this legislation is to transform a process which can take over a year in most foreclosure cases, and compact it to a few months for abandoned properties which have fallen into disrepair.

“Blighted properties depreciate home values in the rest of the community, forcing homeowners to pay more into their mortgages than their homes are worth,” said Senator Lesniak. “However, it can take over a year for abandoned properties to be foreclosed, and with a difficult housing market, it can take even longer for those homes to be resold and rehabilitated. This bill would reduce the foreclosure time period to hopefully get these properties off the foreclosure roles and turn them back into homes for New Jersey families.”

Earlier this week, two other bills sponsored by Senator Lesniak were approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee: S-2157, which would help to transform abandoned, run-down properties into affordable and market-rate homes; and S-2202, which would require the State to use federal funds to help at-risk homeowners stay in their homes. Senator Lesniak said that the three measures, taken together, represent a multi-pronged approach to mitigating New Jersey’s foreclosure crisis.

“The issues feeding into New Jersey’s foreclosure crisis are varied, and we need to take a comprehensive approach to keep people in their homes and reduce the economic damage caused by foreclosure clusters in our neighborhoods,” said Senator Lesniak. “This is about protecting homeowners and preserving New Jersey’s thriving communities, and we need to act now, before we pass Florida as worst in the nation in terms of foreclosed properties.”

S-2156 now heads to the Assembly for consideration. S-2157 and S-2202 are pending consideration by the full Senate.

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