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Letters: Scourge of zombie houses

Councilman Dan Panico (left) and Supervisor Edward Romaine

Councilman Dan Panico (left) and Supervisor Edward Romaine (center) look on while a comdemned home at 33 Ashwood Drive in Shirley, part of Romaine's "Dirty Dozen" list of derelict houses, is demolished by employees of the town of Brookhaven in an effort to help clean up the neighborhood and rid it of such unsafe structures, March 12, 2015. Credit: Daniel Brennan

Editor's Note: Many readers were interested in the Newsday/News12 series covering zombie homes. Have an opinion about the issue? Email letters


Congratulations to Newsday and News 12 for the excellent series "LI's zombie houses" [News, March 22]. Now that the list of banks has been published, let's see if our town and county governments investigate where they have deposits, and make sure they do not reward the wrong banks with those deposits.

Roy Steiner, Central Islip

There's a solution to the abandoned-homes problem: Have the county condemn these properties. It may be involved and difficult but still is the best way. Select the worst properties in the first year, and sell them at auction. Use the same procedure used to sell tax delinquent properties.

If a bank wishes to buy back the property, it can do so, but it must agree to maintain the property and pay interest, perhaps 5 percent.

All buyers at the auction would be required to demolish or upgrade the properties in a short time, or they would be returned to the county and auctioned again.

The inventory of abandoned homes would be eliminated in a few years, and the program would be self-sustaining.

Lawrence Donohue, West Islip

When a person gets a mortgage, he doesn't say he owns the house until his mortgage is paid off. The bank or lender owns the house.

When the borrower walks away from the house, the lender should pay the taxes until the house is resold.

Joseph Taormina, Levittown

The problem of zombie properties can be resolved fairly straightforwardly. We need to allow the counties to declare such properties as abandoned under certain circumstances.

First, the property needs to be in arrears in its real estate taxes for one or two years. Second, it needs to be unoccupied or declared uninhabitable. Such issues as the property being used by squatters or drug users or for other illegal purposes, or being littered with refuse or overgrown, should serve as further evidence for an abandonment determination.

The counties should notify the public and any lienholders. After a certain period, say six months, the property should be declared abandoned. The county could then have it bulldozed, and the costs could be paid from the proceeds of sale of the property at auction.

Peter P. Calarco, Glen Cove

At first glance, zombie homes, speed cameras and casinos might seem to have little in common, but for me they are all symbols of the demise of suburban life as we know it.

David Regina, Nesconset

New York's real estate market is among the most dysfunctional in the country. State foreclosure law is just one of many perverse leftist policies, causing harmful unintended consequences such as zombie houses.

New York promotes exceedingly weak property and contract rights, such that banks have both hands tied behind their backs in enforcing their claims and rights to foreclose when a borrower breaks the promise on a mortgage.

Clifford Sondock, Jericho

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the Land Use Institute, a policy organization.


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