Albany, N.Y. - Communities across New York State long impacted by the scourge of abandoned properties are a step closer to having new tools to combat the quality of life concern, thanks to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D - Howard Beach) and state legislators. This week, the State Assembly passed the Goldfeder-sponsored "New York State Abandoned Property Relief Act of 2016," designed to combat the so-called "zombie" properties with a host of foreclosure protections and a new state-wide registry.
"Zombie properties are a plague on our community that drives down property values, threatens public health and undermines the character of our neighborhoods," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. "For families still struggling to recover from Sandy, they are also a constant, painful reminder of everything we lost in the disaster. When it becomes law, the abandoned property relief act will finally give communities the tools to fight these zombie properties and give families some much-needed relief."
Last week, the State Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of bill 6932-A to establish the "New York State Abandoned Property Relief Act of 2016," which was developed in conjunction with the office of state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The bill aims to facilitate early detection and maintenance of vacant and abandoned residential properties, as well as:
- Expand the existing duty of a mortgagee to maintain vacant residential real property to include “pre-foreclosure” vacant properties;
- Require periodic inspections to determine whether properties secured by a delinquent mortgage have actually been abandoned;
- Allow localities and the Attorney General to enforce the maintenance of property requirements; and
- Create a statewide registry for abandoned residential property under the supervision of the state Attorney General and a toll-free hotline for community residents to report the presence of such properties.
This has led Assemblyman Goldfeder to take on the major blight in a number of public actions since the storm. In 2014, Goldfeder proposed a three-point plan for tackling the problem after receiving calls from homeowners living next to abandoned residential properties in southern Queens and Rockaway. The Assemblyman's plan included the Attorney General's legislation, as well as support for a proposed city council bill making it easier for city agencies to enter and clean abandoned properties, and for the creation of an abandoned property registry.
The following year, Goldfeder called on the city Department of Health to step up pest control around abandoned properties in light of reports of rodents and fears over the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus. With many properties in the community still abandoned and families still mired in Sandy recovery efforts, Goldfeder considers the zombie fight to be a major step in the region's long-term recovery.
"Here in southern Queens and Rockaway, we pride ourselves on the character of our neighborhoods. Fighting these abandoned properties will help us fully recover from Sandy and make our communities even stronger," concluded Goldfeder. "I urge the senate to act as soon as possible to make this legislation a reality for our families."