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Lesniak Bill To Expedite Foreclosure Proceedings On Abandoned Homes Clears Legislature

Senator Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union) testifies on the Senate floor regarding S-1, legislation that would establish marriage equality in New Jersey. The bill is sponsored by Senator Lesniak along with Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) and Senate President Stephen P. Sweeney (D-Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester). The bill was approved by the full Senate with a vote of 24-16.

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 Assembly today.

“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 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. 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. Reducing the foreclosure time period can get these properties off the foreclosure roles and turn them back into homes for New Jersey families.”

The measure is part of a larger legislative package sponsored by Sen. Lesniak to address New Jersey’s foreclosure crisis. Two other bills have been 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. 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 Lesniak. “This is about protecting homeowners and preserving New Jersey’s thriving communities before we pass Florida as worst in the nation in terms of foreclosed properties.”

The bill, S-2156, now heads to the Governor’s desk.

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