Ordinance for the Maintenance of Bank Foreclosure Homes

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The increasing number of bank foreclosure homes in Middlesex, New Jersey has caused blight on neighborhoods. Most of these abandoned and vacant foreclosed properties have become eyesores and magnets to vandals and thieves.

To stop the deterioration of communities brought about by the increasing number of foreclosed homes, Middlesex has proposed an ordinance that would ensure foreclosed houses are maintained despite the absence of any occupants.

The proposed ordinance would require owners of bank foreclosure homes to maintain their properties until buyers are found. Non compliance of the ordinance will mean paying a fine of $500 daily.

Middlesex Councilman Michael Class explained that he started crafting the ordinance after some residents complained to him that foreclosure homes in their neighborhoods were in a state of deterioration because of lack of maintenance.

He said that there were cases in town in which banks foreclosed on properties and do not take care of them after the foreclosure. The garbage piles up and grasses start to grow. In some foreclosed houses that have swimming pools with undrained water, mosquitoes would start to breed on these areas.

Class pointed out that there is no rule or policy that protects neighbors from deteriorating foreclosed properties.

He said that owners of repossessed homes, usually the lending institutions or banks, should register the properties with Middlesex. A fee of $50 is required per registration. Under the proposed ordinance, signs should be placed on windows to provide contact information on the person to call in case of emergency. This person should live not farther than 40 miles from the foreclosed house.

Attorney Edward J. Johnson said that owners of foreclosed properties that are not maintained would received a complaint from either the zoning official or code enforcer. Non-complying owners of foreclosed homes would be given a deadline to clean up their properties before the matter will be brought into court.

Johnson added that once the complaint reached the court, the judge could either give the offending party another chance to clean their properties or fine them.

According to Johnson, the judge would determine what type of fine he is going to impose. He added that it would be cheaper for banks or lending institutions to hire workers to clean bank foreclosure homes than pay the fine.