By Gina Martinez
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) stood with Broadway-Flushing residents in front of a so-called “zombie” home asking the city to clean up the abandoned property. The house, on 25-18 163rd St., is caught up in fraudulent mortgage activity and is in the process of being foreclosed by one of its two mortgage holders, according to Avella.
The residence is one of many “zombie” dwellings in Avella’s district, houses that have been abandoned for years and are falling apart, with no one taking responsibility. The owners of the 163rd Street property took out two mortgages at over $100,000, Avella said. At least one of the mortgages was involved in a scheme to defraud investors, who were part of a pension plan in Virginia. The mortgage was sold as part of a package of bad loans, according to Avella. The people behind putting together the bad mortgages are now in jail, he said.
Last month Gov. Cuomo signed a new law that aims to eliminate “zombie” properties. The law will go into effect Dec. 20 and will require banks and mortgage servicers who manage loans to maintain these dilapidated homes and find a way to expedite the foreclosure process to avoid having these houses blight neighborhoods for years.
Avella has personally reached out to both of the mortgage holders of the property and will speak to the lender.
“I am waiting to hear back from this lender and will demand that they take immediate action to clean up this property and to remove the derelict vehicle as well,” he said. “I will also ask this lender to expedite their foreclosure process to the extent possible under the law and remind them that their obligations as a lien holder are soon to increase with the enactment of this new law, so it is in their best interest to act quickly before they are subject to significant fines of up to $500 per day.”
Avella pointed out the contrast between the rundown home and the well-kept homes in the neighborhood.
“This property is in horrendous condition with unsightly tarps draped over the entire roof. The rest of the outside is broken and dilapidated and grass and weeds are growing up to 4 feet high.” he said. “On top of that there is an obviously abandoned vehicle that’s been sitting on this property for a very long time. To make matters worse, this property is a large corner property in the midst of a beautiful and tranquil residential community, which is completely overshadowed by this zombie property which casts a pall of desperation and decline over the entire neighborhood.”
Madelyn Bower, who has lived in the neighborhood for over 50 years, is happy that something is finally being done.
“When I heard about this new state law I contacted Senator Avella and I must say I’m very impressed with Avella’s presence, to be able to come here on site to view it before this press conference,” she said. “So I’m most grateful and I think so are my neighbors.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart