NEWARK – Senator Ronald L. Rice is seeking to crack down on the “foreclosure blight” affecting neighborhoods throughout New Jersey by drafting tougher legislation that will increase penalties on the lending institutions that fail to properly maintain properties in their possession.
“When a property is seized from a foreclosure, it is the bank that is responsible for maintaining the property until it is resold, but unfortunately, too many foreclosures are not being kept up and it is becoming a major issue in communities,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “A foreclosed property becomes more than just an eyesore; it can become a breeding ground for crime. Too often, the town and its taxpayers are left to foot the bill for cleaning up or providing additional security to areas with foreclosed properties.”
Senator Rice said there is a current foreclosure law (S-1599), enacted in January, which requires lending institutions to maintain the properties or face municipal fines. He said the new bill, which is still begin drafted, would significantly increase penalties on the banks and lending facilities for code violations. The bill would also require out-of-state lenders to have a third party in New Jersey to be responsible for the properties.
According to Senator Rice, current law provides that a bank owned property is subject to the same maintenance and up keep requirements, codes, standards and municipal ordinances as any other privately owned property. The fact that property is uninhibited dies not absolve the bank of is responsibility to maintain the property.
“My measure would ensure the safety and value of neighborhoods and municipalities that are the victims of increasing home and business foreclosures,” said Senator Rice. “Neglected, foreclosed property subjects neighborhoods and municipalities to drug crimes, prostitution, homeless living in the foreclosed property and vandalism. As the foreclosed property falls deeper into disrepair, the values of the surrounding homes and business also deteriorate and further add to the foreclosure blight and destruction of whole neighborhoods.”
Senator Rice added: “We need to address the increasing blight and crime created by foreclosures in order to protect the quality of life for our citizens. This summer I will continue to work hard to draft a comprehensive measure to make certain that banks no longer neglect the properties that they have taken so we once again will be able to ensure the safety of our State’s residents.”