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Proposed bill targets 'zombie properties'

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State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is urging the senate and  assembly to pass legislation that would require banks to maintain properties if they're abandoned during foreclosure.  He claims so-called "zombie properties" threaten communities across the state.  

Schneiderman kicked off a statewide effort Monday to encourage passage of his proposed "Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act." The Attorney General says zombie properties become havens for crime and bring down property values.

"Neighboring homes suffer because of that. And frankly, local governments are left with the responsibility of taking care of them, even while the abandoned properties are bringing down the property tax base."  

Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi says the proposed law would also require banks to advise property owners that they have a legal right to stay in their homes until a court issues an order to vacate. The law looks to  set up a statewide registry so municipalities can track the transfer of vacant foreclosed properties among lending institutions.  

"We're hoping that the senate and the assembly in a bipartisan way, as we believe this bill deserves , will dispense of it and on to the governor for signatures so that hopefully later this year we have this tool available to us," Teresi said.

"There are no magic bullets out there. There's no panacea. But we see this as another good tool that we can use in helping to preserve neighborhoods and deal with vacant structures."  

Attorney General Schneiderman says his proposed bill would remove any incentive banks have to drag their feet in foreclosure.