Monday, October 20, 2014

Garcia, Coughlin, Green, McKeon, Andrzejczak & Fuentes Bill to Speed Process for Maintaining Vacant Properties Advanced by Assembly Panel

(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.
The bill (A-3793) would provide that, notwithstanding any other law or rule to the contrary, if a residential mortgage lenders action to foreclose a mortgage on real property is uncontested, and the property is vacant and abandoned, the lender may file a Motion for Expedited Judgment and Sale. The motion would be accompanied by an affidavit from a person having personal knowledge of the contents and would plead the specific facts to establish that the action is uncontested and that the property is vacant and abandoned. 
"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 neighborhood 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."
Under the bill, if the Motion for Expedited Judgment and Sale and affidavit are found to be in compliance with the provisions of the bill, have been served on the debtor and other appropriate parties in accordance with the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey, and are otherwise satisfactory, the Superior Court would: (1) enter final judgment in foreclosure; (2) direct issuance of a writ of execution to the Sheriff of the county in which the real property is situate that provides for the public sale of the property within 90 days of the filing of the service of the notice of intention that commenced the foreclosure action pursuant to the “Fair Foreclosure Act”; and (3) order payment by the lender of $1,000 as a fee for costs associated with the use of the process for expedited judgment and sale of the property as provided for in this bill.
In a manner consistent with the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey, any debtor or interested party would be able to present a defense in response to the Motion for Expedited Judgment and Sale.  The bill would also require that the defense would need to be accompanied by an affidavit stating that the defense is not made solely for the purpose of delaying the relief requested pursuant to the Motion for Expedited Judgment and Sale. The bill would also require 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 would further provide that nothing in the bill would be construed to affect the rights of a tenant to possession of a leasehold interest under the Anti-Eviction Act, the “New Jersey Foreclosure Fairness Act, or any other applicable law.
The bill was released by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee chaired by Coughlin.