Proposed New York Senate Bill S4781-2015

On April 15, NY S4781-2015 was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee.



An act establishing the “New York state abandoned property neighborhood relief act of 2015”; and to amend the real property actions and proceedings law, in relation to the duty of the mortgagee or its loan servicing agent to maintain property secured by delinquent mortgage and in relation to special foreclosure proceedings for vacant abandoned property; and to amend the state finance law, in relation to establishing the abandoned property neighborhood relief fund


To help community residents and municipalities throughout the State better address the growing problem of vacant and abandoned residential properties by creating a statewide registry of such properties and imposing a duty on mortgagees and their loan servicing agents to report these properties to the registry and take earlier (pre-foreclosure) action to identify, secure and maintain them.


Section 1 establishes the title of the Act as the “New York State Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act of 2015.”

Section 2 amends section 1307 of the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law to: create a definition of “vacant and abandoned” residential real property; expand the existing duty of a mortgagee to maintain vacant residential real property to include pre-foreclosure “vacant and abandoned” residential property as defined in the bill, and to expand such duty to the mortgagee’s loan servicing agent; establish a periodic inspection requirement for mortgagees and loan servicing agents to determine if residential real property subject to a delinquent mortgage is currently occupied; and make it unlawful for a mortgagee or loan servicing agent, or a person acting on their behalf, to enter residential real property that is not vacant or abandoned for the purpose of forcing, intimidating, harassing or coercing a lawful occupant thereof to vacate the property in order to render it vacant and abandoned.

Section 3 adds a new section 1307-a to the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law to: require the Attorney General to establish and maintain a statewide electronic Vacant and Abandoned Property Registry that shall be accessible to local officials across the State; require mortgagees or their agents to promptly submit to the statewide Registry information about vacant and abandoned properties, including but not limited to the current name, address and contact information for the lender or servicer responsible for maintaining the property, whether a foreclosure action has been filed, and any updated material information when it becomes available; require mortgagees or their loan servicing agents to provide prompt written notice to mortgagors, when the mortgage on their residential real property is three monthly payments past due, of the mortgagor’s right to occupy the property until he or she is ordered to leave by a court of competent jurisdiction; require the Attorney General to take appropriate measures to ensure that the Federal National Mortgage Association and

 the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Association are promptly notified when certain properties are added to the electronic registry; authorize a municipality wherein vacant and abandoned residential property is located to intervene as of right in a foreclosure action involving the property for the purpose of requesting injunctive relief to ensure the property is maintained in accordance with law and that the foreclosure action is timely prosecuted; require the Attorney General to establish and maintain a toll-free hotline that community members concerned about vacant and abandoned properties can call to report such properties and to obtain information relating to such properties, including but not limited to whether a specific property is listed on the Attorney General’s statewide Vacant and Abandoned Property Registry and, if so, the identity of the mortgagee or loan servicing company responsible for maintaining the property; and authorize the Attorney General, and any affected locality upon written notice to the Attorney General, to seek injunctive relief and/or civil penalties against mortgagees and/or their agents for violations of RPAPL sections 1307 and 1307-a

Section 4 requires that a part of the Supreme Court be devoted to foreclosure actions involving property alleged to be vacant and abandoned.

Section 5 adds a new section 1308 to the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law to establish a special foreclosure proceeding for vacant and abandoned residential real property.

Section 6 adds a new section 91-g to the State Finance Law to create the Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Fund, to be comprised of all civil penalties collected by the Attorney General in enforcement actions under RPAPL section 1307-a(3)(c), and to establish a procedure for the disbursement to localities of Enforcement Assistance Grants from available monies in such fund to aid such localities in the enforcement of RPAPL sections 1307 and 1307-a.

Section 7 establishes an effective date of 90 days after the act shall have become a law.


Section 1307 of the Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law currently requires a plaintiff in a mortgage foreclosure action who obtains a Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale involving residential real property that is or becomes vacant to maintain the property until such time as ownership of the property has been transferred through the closing of title in foreclosure or other disposition, and the deed is duly recorded.


Vacant and abandoned residential properties securing delinquent mortgages fall into disrepair and harm neighboring properties and the surrounding community. These properties are a blight on neighborhoods because they are often boarded up, inhabited by squatters or used for criminal purposes. When a vacant and abandoned property is not maintained for an extended period of time, there is a decline in the community’s real estate market and the state’s property tax base.

 There is also an increased likelihood of crime in and around the property. There are instances of such properties being used by criminals to manufacture and/or distribute illegal drugs. Municipalities are often forced to expend taxpayer funds to prevent a vacant and abandoned property from becoming a public hazard. If a municipality is forced to care for a significant number of vacant and abandoned properties, its budget can be depleted quickly.

Current law, enacted in 2009, imposes a duty on plaintiff-mortgagees to maintain vacant residential properties only after a Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale has been entered. Unfortunately, this law has proven inadequate to address the growing number of vacant and abandoned properties falling into disrepair across New York State. A survey in one jurisdiction showed that most vacant and abandoned properties were not subject to foreclosure actions and, if they were, the cases had not proceeded to Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale. In many instances, the plaintiff-mortgagee abandoned the foreclosure effort. In others, the plaintiff-mortgagee sought to vacate its own Judgment of Foreclosure and Sale, bringing the property outside of the existing maintenance requirement imposed on the plaintiff-mortgagee by statute. There is also evidence showing that current and former New York homeowners have been misled into believing they need to leave their homes earlier in the foreclosure process than they actually have to, resulting in even more vacant and abandoned properties.

In response to this growing threat to communities across New York State, the Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act of 2015 will ensure that homeowners are provided with early notice that they are legally entitled to remain in their homes until ordered to leave by a court and will require mortgagees and their loan servicers and agents to identify, secure and maintain vacant and abandoned properties much earlier in the mortgage delinquency timeline. It will also require that they electronically register these properties with the newly-created Vacant and Abandoned Property Registry to be established and maintained by the Attorney General. The Registry, in turn, will provide a much needed and readily available source of information on vacant and abandoned residential properties to local officials throughout the State, and will be supplemented by a toll-free hotline that community residents can use to report suspected vacant and abandoned properties to the Attorney General and receive information regarding the status of registered properties, including the identity of the mortgagee or agent responsible for maintaining them. The Act also would establish in the State Finance Law a new Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Fund, to be comprised of civil penalty monies collected by the Attorney General in enforcement actions under the Act, which monies would be used to fund Enforcement Assistance Grants to aid localities in their enforcement of the Act.

Please click here to view the full text of S4781-2015 online.

About Safeguard 
Safeguard Properties is the mortgage field services industry leader, preserving vacant and foreclosed properties across the U.S., Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Guam. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Safeguard provides the highest quality service to our clients by leveraging innovative technologies and proactively developing industry best practices and quality control procedures. Consistent with Safeguard’s values and mission, we are an active supporter of hundreds of charitable efforts across the country. Annually, Safeguard gives back to communities in partnership with our employees, vendors and clients. We also are dedicated to working with community leaders and officials to eliminate blight and stabilize neighborhoods. Safeguard is dedicated to preserving today and protecting tomorrow.  Website:



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.