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Troy prosecutes zombie property cases

Kumi Tucker
Updated: January 14, 2020 07:38 PM
Created: January 14, 2020 05:49 PM

TROY - Troy is fighting a problem that many local cities have: run-down vacant houses in foreclosure, known as zombie properties. The city is taking mortgage companies to court, and recently won its biggest settlement to date. 

42 Fifth Avenue in the North Central neighborhood has been vacant since a fire. It has fallen into disrepair and was officially registered as a zombie property last summer. 

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Troy took the mortgage company to court, and Selene Finance out of Texas was ordered to pay $78,400 and bring the property up to code - the largest award the city has gotten so far.

It's also won civil penalties and upkeep orders for properties including one at 771 Third Avenue. 

Zombie properties are vacant and stuck in the foreclosure process. Many cities face a problem when mortgage lenders fail to maintain the properties. 

Neighbors call them dangerous eyesores. 

"It means that other property owners are less likely to take care of their property," said Steven Strichman, Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development. "It means values fall. It's harder to sell a property. It's harder to attract new tenants and new residents and owners into these neighborhoods."

Troy has a designated code enforcement officer and outside attorney who are paid for with a grant from the New York State Attorney General's Office. 

Money from the judgments goes back into city coffers. 

"We had a number of residents there attending at that last court case in support of this action, which I think helped and sent a message to the judge that this was a serious problem and we wanted it taken care of," said Strichman. 

City officials say they are going after several other properties right now. The goal is to get properties like this one back to active use and improve neighborhoods.


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