Babylon Town has hired a company to manage a new registry for properties which go into foreclosure in an effort to get ahead of the problem of abandoned and dilapidated homes.
The town has hired Property Registration Champions Corp., of Melbourne, Florida, to oversee its Mortgage-in-Default Registry. In September the town passed the Mortgage-in-Default Registry Law, requiring banks and mortgage lenders to register with the town as soon as a home mortgage goes into default. Not all of the homes will go into foreclosure, nor will they all be abandoned, town officials said.
The effort is aimed at getting out in front of “zombie” homes, houses that have gone into foreclosure and been abandoned by their owners, often falling into disrepair during the state’s lengthy foreclosure process. Typically, this is when town workers first learn of these homes, after receiving complaints from neighbors about the state of the property.
A report last year by Newsday and News 12 Long Island found that Long Island led the state and ranked among the top 10 regions in the nation in the number of zombie houses.
Under Babylon’s new law, the lenders will have to pay an annual $200 registration fee per property. Property Registration Champions has contracted with the town to receive 50 percent of those fees.
The company was selected through a request for proposals, said town spokesman Kevin Bonner. The company has over 30 years of experience in the administration of vacant and foreclosed properties, he said. Among the cities the company is contracted with are Jacksonsville, Florida, and Greece, New York, he said.
The new law requires mortgagees to inspect and register a property within 10 days of going into default and to continue to inspect the property monthly as long as it remains in default, even if the property is occupied by the owner.
Lenders also will have to report each time a mortgage changes hands and the new company holding the mortgage will be responsible for registering as well. Penalties for violations start with a first-offense fine of $250 to $1,000 and up to 15 days in jail.
Property Registration Champions is expected to begin work on the registry next month, Bonner said.