RICE BILL TO ALLOW MUNICIPALITIES TO REGULATE UPKEEP OF PROPERTIES IN FORECLOSURE NOW LAW

Senator Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, speaks during a meeting of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

 TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ronald L. Rice which would help local officials keep their municipalities free of blight caused by abandoned, foreclosed properties has been signed into law.

“When a home in foreclosure sits vacant, it can become a magnet for criminal activity and can deteriorate to cause an economic blight on the remaining homes within the community,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex.  “When these abandoned homes fall into disrepair, the creditors who are legally responsible for them should step up to clean up the property. This law will ensure that if they fail to do this in a timely manner, they will be held accountable.”

The law, S1229, authorizes municipalities to adopt ordinances to regulate the care, maintenance, security and upkeep of a vacant and abandoned property in foreclosure. It will allow municipal code enforcement officials to issue a citation against creditors who are in the process of foreclosing on residential property if the condition of the property is found to be in violation of the municipal ordinance. The creditor would be required to correct the violation within 30 days of receipt of the violation or within 10 days if the violation presents an imminent threat to public health and safety. A municipal court could impose a fine on a creditor for up to $1,500 for each day that the property is deemed to be in violation, under the law.

The law will also allow governing bodies to hold accountable out-of-state creditors by requiring that they designate an in-state representative to handle the care and upkeep of properties in foreclosure for which they hold the deed. A creditor found to be in violation of the ordinance because the creditor did not appoint an in-state representative or agent would by subject to a fine of $2,500 for each day of the violation.

The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 35-0. It was approved by the Assembly by a vote of 76-1. The law takes effect immediately.