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State Seal

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice and Brian Stack to help clean up foreclosed properties by allowing municipalities to penalize creditors that fail to timely remedy code violations has been signed into law.

“When a foreclosed home sits vacant within a community, it can become a magnet for criminal activity, and can deteriorate to cause an economic blight on the remaining homes in the area,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex.  “When these abandoned homes fall into disrepair, the creditors who are legally responsible for them should step up, do the right thing, and maintain the home.  If they fail to fix the property in a timely manner, municipal officials should have the ability to impose penalties.”

“We’ve seen cases where abandoned foreclosed homes aren’t kept up and as a result create problems that affect the rest of the municipality,” said Senator Stack, D-Hudson.  “Not only can these properties drag down home values but they also can create a financial burden on everyone else when towns are forced to conduct maintenance and police patrols of the area. By requiring creditors who initiate the foreclosure proceedings to maintain these homes or face penalties, we’re putting the responsibility for maintenance where it belongs.”

The law, S288, authorizes municipalities to impose penalties on creditors that fail to timely remedy code violations for residential properties in foreclosure for which the creditor is legally responsible.  The law will require a municipality to include a description of the conditions that gave rise to the violation with the notice of violation and to provide a period of not less than 30 days for the creditor to remedy the violation. Under the law, if the creditor fails to remedy the violation within that 30-day time period, then the municipality will be permitted to impose penalties as outlined for violations of municipal ordinances under current law.

The new law will take effect 60 days following enactment.