Additionally, the law requires the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to maintain a statewide electronic registry and the lender is required to furnish information to the DFS within 21 days from when it learns that the property is abandoned and vacant. RPAPL Section 1309 requires that the Plaintiff prove by a preponderance of evidence that it conducted at least 3 inspections, each between 25 to 35 days apart and at different times of the day, and at each inspection, no occupancy was present. Evidence of this includes: overgrown vegetation, accumulation of newspapers and or flyers, past due utility notices, disconnected utilities, accumulation of trash, absence of window coverings, broken, boarded or missing windows, property that is open to entry or property that is unsound and poses a potential threat or danger. The new law carves out exceptions, such as when property is under construction, renovation, seasonal use, subject to a Surrogate Court proceeding or a quiet title action, occupied by someone who has a legal right to occupy, etc. In addition to the typical mortgage foreclosure action, the new law will cover tax lien foreclosures too. Failure of lenders to comply may result in fines that can be as much as $500.00 per day. The law allows all municipalities to enforce the law and collect the fines.
If an owner of vacant property is served with any notice declaring the property to be abandoned and vacant, the owner must determine if the property is worth saving and if so, such owner must take immediate action to avoid the plaintiff from obtaining the judgment of foreclosure and sale. My firm will provide a free phone consultation in such matters, but it is vital that the owner not waste anytime otherwise the property may be lost at a foreclosure sale.