Ruiz-Madden Bill Addresses Impact of Foreclosure Crisis on NJ
On November 7, PolitickerNJ published an article titled Ruiz-Madden Bill To Address Impact of Foreclosure Crisis on NJ Advances.
Link to bill text. Link to statement to S-2921 with committee amendments. Following is the aforementioned article.
Ruiz-Madden Bill To Address Impact of Foreclosure Crisis on NJ Advances
Bill Would Provide for the Maintenance of Vacant & Abandoned Properties
TRENTON – In an effort to address the impact of the foreclosure crisis on New Jersey, Senators M. Teresa Ruiz and Fred H. Madden sponsored legislation that would help to minimize neighborhood eyesores and health and safety risks associated with vacant and abandoned properties. The bill was approved today by the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.
“The foreclosure crisis has resulted in vacant and abandoned properties in neighborhoods across the state. Unfortunately, when a bank takes ownership of a home, upkeep and maintenance of the property sometimes falls to the wayside. This problem affects home values but can also threaten the health and safety of residents in the community,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “The bill would help ensure that towns and cities have the tools necessary to hold the owners responsible for maintaining these properties in order to keep the community clean and safe.”
The bill, S-2921, would help ensure that municipalities can hold accountable those responsible for maintaining the properties by creating a registry, a schedule of fees and signage requirements. A property would be considered vacant and abandoned if it is not legally occupied by a mortgagor or tenant for residential or business purposes, it cannot be legally reoccupied, and at least two conditions which indicate abandonment exist.
The title holder or mortgage lender responsible for maintaining a property that is vacant or abandoned at the time of the bill’s enactment would have 30 days from the bill’s effective date to register the property with the clerk of the municipality in which the property is located. Those responsible for a property that becomes vacant or abandoned after the bill is enacted would have 90 days from the date when the property becomes vacant or abandoned to register the property, or 30 days after the responsible party assumes ownership or responsibility for the property, whichever is later.
A municipality would be permitted to establish by ordinance a fee of not more than $250 for a certificate of registration for a vacant and abandoned property. A fee of not more than $500 would be permitted for a renewal if there is an outstanding property maintenance or code violation that remains unabated at the time of renewal. A fee of not more than $750 would be permitted for a subsequent renewal if there continues to be outstanding property maintenance or code violation or there is a new violation on a vacant and abandoned property that remains unabated at the time of renewal, which would be required annually.
“Vacant and abandoned properties are not only eyesores in the neighborhood, they also affect property values and can pose a significant health and safety risk to local residents,” said Senator Madden. “This measure will ensure that local officials have a registry with information on which homes within the community are vacant, and may require law enforcement monitoring or maintenance. It will also provide municipalities with a mechanism to help to relieve the financial burden on taxpayers, who are forced to bear the cost of maintenance when a municipality steps in to clean up an unsafe or dilapidated property because the lien holder is not providing the necessary upkeep.”
The committee approved the bill by a vote of 3-0. It now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.
Please click here to view the online article.
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