Clarence town officials are suing two banks over “zombie property”

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CLARENCE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Town officials in Clarence are suing two banks over the dilapidated conditions of a so-called “zombie property” there.

Town officials want to take over the property so they can find a buyer to fix it up or tear it down.

Officials say one of the two banks the town is suing has such a bad reputation, it changed its business name and now goes by the DBA of “Mr. Cooper”.

Local officials gathered on the steps of the Erie County Courthouse to announce the lawsuit on Friday. The lawsuit is over a dilapidated house on Shisler Road in Clarence that has been in foreclosure for eight years.

The lawsuit is first in Western New York to be filed through the Erie County Clerk’s “Zombie Initiative”- against two banks, the mortgage holder based in Cincinnati, and the mortgage servicer, based near Dallas, Tex. that has changed its name to “Mr. Cooper”.

“They are so bad- this is how bad they are- they had to change their name,” Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns said Friday. “They go to an alias, they are Nationsbank doing business as “Mr. Cooper”. Boy, that’s pretty bad when you don’t even want your name out there.”

Kearns and Erie County Legislator Ed Rath planted a sign in front of the property, letting neighbors know something is being done about the eyesore, and why they are suing “Mr. Cooper”.

“Other banks are working with the clerk, other banks are working with the WNY Law Center- not this one,” Rath said. “So we are hopefully going to impose some very stiff penalties to get their attention and get this property cleaned up.”

The lawsuit is seeking the court’s go-ahead to fine the banks $500 per day for the neglect- up to $75,000.

The Western New York Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Town of Clarence, and a cursory examination indicates part of the house might be salvageable.

In any case, town officials believe a fix-up or tear-down would be profitable.

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