Governor Chris Christie recently approved Bill A347, which switches the responsibility of title-owners to creditors. After July 14th, the bill will be effective and creditors must maintain property under codes and regulations. Previously, it was the title-owners of the properties that were responsible for making sure that the property follows maintenance regulations, however, it will now be the creditor’s duty.
Creditors are immediately handed over the responsibility of maintenance of the property once the title-owner abandons the property or once the property has been officially vacant. The creditors must notify the municipality that a foreclosure is occurring in addition to making sure that the property is properly maintenance, for example, fixing roofs or cutting the property’s grass. If the creditor is neglecting to deal with these situations, the municipality must send an order for the creditors to make these changes within a given period of time.
Failure to comply with these changes, creditors will be given a penalty of: imprisonment for up to 90 days, a fine with the most $2,000, or issued community service for up to 90 days, all depending on the importance of the issue that needed to be fixed.
If creditors receive another maintenance violation from the municipality within a year of receiving its initial notification, a penalty on the basis of negligence will be issued on top of the penalty from failure to fix these requests.
Creditors who purchase the foreclosed property are no longer responsible of maintaining the property, therefore, the municipalities can no longer issue fines on a timely matter to creditors.
Chris Christie’s new regulation is a response to the alarming fact that New Jersey is now the state with the highest percentage of home loan in foreclosure in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association). New Jersey has about an 8.12% of foreclosed homes, about 2% higher than the national average.
The increased rate is most likely due to Hurricane Sandy that severely damaged homes, the foreclosure processes, and the backlog that forces mortgage lenders to review their lending procedures.
Sperling, Joy H., and Michael J. Fitzpatrick. "Creditors Must Maintain Abandoned Property Before Foreclosure Is Completed." New Jersey Law Journal. ALM Publications, 1 July 2014. Web. 08 July 2014.