ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)– Zombies are hard to kill. A proposed bill to hold banks responsible for abandoned so-called “zombie homes” got another push in Albany.

State senators from each party stood in front of a derelict home in Putnam County to underline the problem, CBS2’s Lou Young reported.

The house on Lakeview Avenue in Carmel is a crumbling eyesore that’s been vacant for most of the last decade. It’s just one of hundreds of physical reminders of the real estate crash that triggered the great recession.

“While the banks were bailed out and they’re doing fine, they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They were quick to foreclose on people, but now that they’ve foreclosed they don’t want to assume the duty of maintaining these properties,” State Sen. Jeffrey Klein said.

The far northern suburbs of Putnam and Dutchess County have some of the highest inventories of foreclosed properties in the state. The banks are legally required to maintain them, but the enforcement mechanism is weak.

“We send them notices of violation and we hear nothing back from them,” Carmel Town Supervisor Kenneth Schmidt said.

There are so many abandoned, derelict properties that it’s difficult to pinpoint ownership. Some zombie homes are in legal limbo, others are just owned by the banks.

“It takes the property values down, it really does. It’s a bad fixture in the neighborhood,” Carmel resident Mary Schukins said.

State senators in both parties are now proposing a statewide registry of derelict properties to help local governments levy fines against the banks that own them.

“The registry is extremely important and then we can report to the banks and it’s not ‘he said she said’ anymore. There’s some skin in the game from ’em,”  State Sen. Terrence Murphy said.

The banking lobby is strongly opposed to what they consider to be over-regulation and has killed the bill in previous sessions. The sponsors believe this show of bipartisanship support gives it a better chance than it’s ever had before.



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