New Hampshire rep takes aim at ‘zombie foreclosures’

Swanzey rep mulls legislation targeting lender’s responsibility post-foreclosure


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Rep. James McConnell says he plans to sponsor a bill regulating 'zombie foreclosures'

If you foreclose on a property, then you’re responsible for taking care of it.

That’s the idea behind a bill that Rep. James McConnell, R-North Swanzey, would like to introduce next session, aimed are called “zombie foreclosures.”

“The financial institution doesn’t care. Neither does the person who is living there,” said McConnell. 

A Swanzey zoning official brought the issue to his attention, but McConnell said the trend is widespread. “It is becoming a real problem. No one is fixing the roof or even mowing the law.”

The NH Bankers Association wouldn’t comment on the particular bill without seeing it, “but in the past there have been suggestions along those lines, and if a house is falling apart, that’s a health and safety issue, and there are municipal laws that address that,” said Tom Fahey, the organization’s chief lobbyist.

Towns have municipal ordinances that they can enforce, McConnell said, “but right now they are ignoring them. “ A state law, especially one with some teeth, would be harder to shrug off, he said

McConnell was hazy on the details of his intended bill, including enforcement and penalties, but he looked to New York state. There, the Department of Financial Services posts a “Zombie Property Database” website, relating to vacant and abandoned properties. It also has an expedited “Zombie Property Foreclosure” home page, which alludes to a new law to expedite foreclosures and sales.

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