NJ: Bill targeting creditors who fail to keep up vacant homes now law

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    Legislation sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto and Assemblymen Daniel R. Benson, Benjie E. Wimberly, Paul D. Moriarty and Carmelo G. Garcia that would empower municipalities to take action against creditors who fail to maintain vacant properties that are slated for foreclosure was recently signed into law.

    The new law (A-1257) gives municipal officials the authority to issue citations and impose fines to ensure that creditors fulfill their responsibility to maintain unoccupied residential properties on which a summons and complaint in an action to foreclose has been filed.

    The law now states that in-state creditors found to be in violation of any ordinance, rule or regulation adopted pursuant to the law would be subject to a minimum fine of $1,500 for each day of the violation. Out-of-state creditors would be subject a $2,500 fine, at minimum. At least 20 percent of any money collected would have to be used for code enforcement purposes.

    The new law also requires out-of-state creditors foreclosing on a residential property to designate an in-state person or entity responsible for maintenance of the property.

    Of the top 10 U.S. cities hardest hit by the housing crisis, three – Newark, Elizabeth and Paterson – are in New Jersey, according to a recent Haas Institute study.