Waking the undead: New law could help eliminate Long Island 'Zombie Homes'

Kristin Thorne Image
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
New law could eliminate boarded up, decaying properties
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Kristin Thorne has more from Bayville.

BAYVILLE, Long Island (WABC) -- A new law could eliminate so-called Zombie Homes -- boarded up and decaying properties -- on Long Island.

Nassau and Suffolk counties have more of them than any place else in the state, and the blight has frustrated many communities. But it could soon go away.

There are sections of Bayville where it's almost like time has stopped, with homes left falling apart and with overgrown yards.

The properties are abandoned by their homeowners, bringing down property values and creating a nightmare for neighbors.

"There's been animals in the house," Bayville resident Charles Hoffmann said. "Dead raccoons and other vermin."

The responsibility ends up falling into the hands of local municipalities, prompting Bayville to put together a task force to deal with about a dozen zombie homes in the small village. They've been trying to fix up the properties.

"Right now, we've maintained the bushes in the front," said Robert Nigro, who sits on the village's Board of Trustees. "The back hasn't been maintained very well."

They're also working with banks to speed up the foreclosure process and get the homes back on the market.

"Why should we tolerate neglected and abandoned houses," Trustee Bob De Natale said.

They're hoping that a law that goes into affect next week will help. The New York State Zombie Property and Foreclosure Prevention Law requires banks to maintain abandoned properties or face a daily $500 fine.

It also requires a foreclosing party to move to auction within 90 days of a foreclosure judgement, as well as establishes an electronic registry of abandoned properties.

In Bayville, they're looking forward to making these homes good neighbors again.

"Hopefully, when the foreclosures are settled, we'll be getting new families coming into the houses," De Natale said. "Getting the raccoon families out, getting people real people into the houses and making them what it should be, an addition to the community."

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