© 2023 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Donate Today Banner

Officials address harsh realities of abandoned properties

WBFO File Photo

With abandoned homes dragging down communities across New York, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is proposing legislation that would make lenders responsible for maintaining so called "zombie properties."

Some of the problems might be alleviated if home owners facing foreclosure understand their rights.       

Attorney Robert Rock, Tully Rinckey's managing partner, says the concept of "zombie homes" arises when a homeowner moves out before the lengthy foreclosure process is completed. Homes fall into disrepair and become unsafe when they're abandoned before the bank actually takes possession.

Rock says homeowners who fall behind and receive a foreclosure notice have several options, including a loan modification, Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. But he advises get help as soon as there's a problem.

"With the Chapter 13 option it becomes more viable the earlier into your default period you exercise it," Rock said.

"In other words, it's a whole lot easier to cure 5 months of defaults over 5 years than it is to cure 24 months of defaults over 5 years."

Rock says banks pursuing residential foreclosure must send homeowners a list of non-profit agencies that can help them keep their homes. He says people who abandon their homes before the bank takes possession can still be held liable for damage to the home or personal injuries on the property.