New York Communities Clean Bank Foreclosure Homes

by Peter Vernon on States

The continuing increase in the number of bank foreclosure homes has been haunting the Rockland towns of Clarkstown, Haverstraw and Orangetown for some time now.

The foreclosure crisis has also brought the biggest challenge facing the Rockland local governments — maintaining these abandoned and vacant foreclosure properties to prevent them from becoming blights to neighborhoods.

Majority of the foreclosed houses in these towns are owned by banks which usually care for their properties. However, as more foreclosed houses remained unsold and unoccupied, the three municipalities are having difficulty tracking the real owners of these properties and issue them with violations such as for overgrown yards.

In some cases, the owners of foreclosure homes are out-of-town banks or the ownership of the property could not be established because the mortgage was passed on from one lender to another.

In cases that towns could not contact the owners, they took over the responsibility and cost of cleaning these vacant, foreclosed homes and hope that their expenses would be reimbursed once the properties are sold.

So far, Haverstraw and Clarkstown are cleaning and maintaining three abandoned, bank foreclosed houses each while Orangetown is monitoring about 10 houses for noncompliance of property maintenance codes. If property owners would not comply, Orangetown will be forced to maintain them.

The number of foreclosure properties in the three municipalities increased from previous years. But the combined numbers represent only a fraction of the total bank foreclosed houses in the county.

In the first seven months of 2009, there were 206 foreclosed houses in the county. In 2008, the county posted a total of 354 foreclosures.

The maintenance work provided by the three towns is limited to cleaning the yards such as cutting the grass. Industry experts said that so far, the three towns do not have to clean and maintain the abandoned foreclosure houses for long because they are sold immediately, adding that the areas are still attractive places to live.

They said that many bank foreclosed homes in the towns were purchased, rehabilitated and sold.

Usually, municipalities in Rockland County charged the cost of cleaning and maintenance on tax liens against the foreclosed houses.