Weekly Feature

2016-06-09 / Editorial

Light shed on ‘zombie’ property ordeal

Bee Editorial

In less than one year, the issue of vacant and abandoned “zombie” properties has been brought to the public’s attention by Assemblyman Michael Kearns, members of the Western New York Law Center and concerned individuals in communities across the state.

This effort has been an uphill battle against both Erie County and New York State for cooperation on finding relief from irresponsible banks and incomplete foreclosures. Now, the issue is reaching its peak and residents can see light on the other side.

Recently, the county has cooperated and followed through with requests from the assemblyman to include property tax payer information on the Erie County Real Property Tax Services website, identifying which entity has control over properties, and who residents should contact to lodge complaints. Before this development, it was a burdensome task which fell on individuals to research, dig and find out which bank or lending agent was responsible for each separate property. Often, it would fall to the Western New York Law Center to find this information, allowing the public to call out banks behind incomplete foreclosures.

Residents and individuals living with these zombies now have the leverage they need to continue the fight.

Homeowners distraught by the image of deteriorating homes in their communities no longer have to worry about whether someone will step up.

While the registry is a profound step toward winning the war against vacant and abandoned homes, it will not recoup the lost property value residents have endured, and it will not make up for the fact that the foreclosure system is itself in dire straits. In this country, the banking industry is a giant among men.

Although taking on the banks may seem a daunting task, a united and collective voice can reach those which have a say in the way banks operate. Together, homeowners can demand reform to ensure that future generations do not have to face these problems.

Property tax records are public information, giving power to the people to question why something has not been done before, and where this matter will go in the future.

Complaint forms are still being sought by Kearns and can be found on his website, assembly.state.ny.us, or at his office, 1074 Union Road in West Seneca.

Together, the community can take hold of the zombie property ordeal.

Return to top