News Article

Lenders May Have To Maintain Foreclosed Homes

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. November 16, 2012

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Senator Ron Rice (photo by Phil Gregory)

A measure making its way through the New Jersey legislature would allow towns to require mortgage lenders to maintain vacant foreclosed homes.

The legislation would give a creditor 30 days to correct any building code violations or face the same fines that a homeowner would pay.

Senator Ron Rice is the bill’s primary sponsor. He says lenders need to take responsibility for the homes they foreclose on.

 “I’ve called banks and lenders. I’ve called landlords. They’re out of state. They say they’re going to do something and they don’t. You go back to a 1-800 number and you get someone else. Some of them cuss you out and say they don’t care who you are.”

Rice says when a foreclosed residence is unoccupied and not maintained, the property deteriorates and can bring down the value of surrounding homes. He says vacant homes can also be a magnet for criminal activity.

I’ve got homeless people staying in these homes. Many of them are starting fires. I’ve got drug dealers. I’ve got rapes in these buildings. I’ve got grass growing. I’ve got rodents all over the place.”

Rice says lenders need to care about what happens in those vacant properties.

“For banks not to want to maintain properties to me it’s a disservice to their investors. Maybe they don’t see it that way, but the stockholders have an investment there to reap some benefits from it in the long term.”

The bill was advanced by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee and now goes to the full Senate for consideration. The Assembly has not yet acted on it.

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