The Yorktown Town Board approved new rules Tuesday for bank-owned properties known as zombie homes.
The new law applies to properties whose owners are in mortgage default. Under the legislation, within 10 days of the date that a bank declares its mortgage on a particular parcel of property to be in default, the bank shall inspect the premises and register the property with the town’s mortgage-in-default registry.
The new fee to register a zombie home is $500. If the fee is not paid, a $100 fine will be assessed for every month that the registration fee goes unpaid.
“All responsible Yorktown homeowners have the right to enjoy neighborhoods that are not blighted by derelict zombie homes in foreclosure limbo,” said Supervisor Matt Slater. “We understand that the legal process to resolve a mortgage default is slow, but the pace of the legal system is no excuse for homes to sit in disrepair and poor maintenance.”
If the property is occupied, but remains in default, the law requires that a local property manager or bank representative perform monthly inspections to verify compliance with the law.
“Some people think that zombie homes disappeared after the Great Recession, but this problem continues to plague our neighborhoods,” said Councilman Tom Diana. “We are holding banks accountable for their negligence.”
If the property is in default and vacant, the local property manager or bank must perform weekly inspections to verify compliance with the law.
“It is important that banks realize that if they ‘own’ a house in one of our neighborhoods, they are responsible to be a good neighbor and keep up on the maintenance of the property,” said Councilman Ed Lachterman. “Being an institution does not absolve them of that requirement.”
The new zombie home law requires banks or owners of foreclosed properties to: keep the property free of weeds, overgrown brush, trash and circulars; remove graffiti; landscape yards; maintain pools; and secure windows and doors.
“This is an old problem but a good step forward,” said Councilman Vishnu Patel.