Garcia, Coughlin, Green, McKeon, Andrzejczak & Fuentes Look to Speed Process for Maintaining Foreclosed Vacant Properties

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Carmelo Garcia, Craig Coughlin, Speaker Pro Tempore Jerry Green, John McKeon, Bob Andrzejczak and Angel Fuentes sponsored to provide an expedited process for foreclosing vacant and abandoned residential properties in uncontested actions was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
“We’ve seen vacant properties throughout New Jersey destabilize neighborhoods and hurt property values,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “I view this as common sense – if a property is vacant and abandoned in an uncontested situation, then let’s speed the process by which somebody will become responsible for it.”
“New Jersey’s continued foreclosure crisis is hurting neighborhoods and promoting blight,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Providing an expedited process such as this in uncontested cases is a smarter approach to protecting our communities.”
“We need to do more to combat the scourge of vacant properties,” said Green (D-Union/Middlesex/Somerset). “Allowing vacant properties to sit there causing problems when the case is uncontested just makes no sense at all.”
“Making someone responsible for these properties sooner rather than later is the responsible thing to do,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “It serves no one to have vacant properties spreading blight and destroying property values when a simple step such as this can go a long way toward improving the situation.”
“Government bureaucracy can be frustrating in all circumstances, but especially if your neighborhood is being negatively impacted by a vacant property that could otherwise be maintained,” said Andrzejczak (D-Atlantic/Cape May/Cumberland). “Quite simply, this bill is common sense.”
“Too many neighborhoods have suffered due to needless red tape,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This bill does the right thing for all involved.”
The bill (A-3793) provides an expedited process for residential mortgage lenders to use to foreclose vacant and abandoned residential properties.
The bill provides that a residential mortgage lender may file a motion to proceed summarily to foreclose vacant and abandoned property if the foreclosure action is uncontested. It requires that if the court enters a final judgment in response to a motion to proceed summarily with a finding that the property is vacant and abandoned, then the sheriff shall sell the property within 90 days of the filing of the notice of intention to foreclose.
If it becomes apparent that the sheriff cannot comply with this requirement, then the foreclosing plaintiff may apply to the court for an order appointing a Special Master or judicial agent to hold the foreclosure sale.
The bill requires that the Superior Court shall order payment by the lender of $1,000 as a fee for costs associated with the use of the summary process for vacant and abandoned properties. If proceeding with the summary action, the lender shall not have to serve debtor with a motion of entry of final judgment in addition to the notice of intention to foreclose.
In a manner consistent with the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey, any debtor or interested party may present a defense or objection in response to the summary action. The bill requires that the defense shall be accompanied by an affidavit stating that the defense is not made solely for the purpose of delaying the relief requested pursuant to the summary action.
The bill also requires the defense to be presented within 90 days of the filing of the service of the notice of intention that commenced the foreclosure action.
Finally, any defense that is presented without the affidavit, or that is not presented within the 90 day time period, shall not be considered by the court. The bill takes effect on the 90th day next following enactment.
The bill was released by the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee chaired by Green.