ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB)– Do you have a “zombie home” in your neighborhood? Erie County Clerk Michael Kearns has developed a “Zombies Initiative,” with the Western New York Law Center, to report and crackdown on zombie properties in Buffalo and Erie County.
The Erie County Legislature approved a resolution declaring the week of October 28 to November 1, “Zombies Property Awareness Week,” to raise county residents’ consciousness of the scourge of abandoned residential property, and the effect these properties have on taxpayers and quality of life.
Kearns cited an abandoned dilapidated property on Erie Road in the Town of Evans that officials believe has been unoccupied for at least 7 years, but town work crews have been performing some of the exterior maintenance at taxpayer expense.
“We have spent close to $250,000 in the past, just to maintain vacant and abandoned property,” said Town of Evans Supervisor Mary Hosler, “that is not just the Town of Evans, that is Erie County taxpayers.”
An attorney for the Western New York Law Center said the mortgage servicer foreclosed on the property, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) took control of the loan, but the mortgage is still in the name of the previous homeowner.
The daughter of the former homeowner lives next door to the zombie home, and said her mother has been in a nursing home for years.
Jordan Zeranti, a WNY Law Center attorney said the loan servicer could get slammed with fines up to $500 a day for failing to keep the property maintained.
“The loan is owned by HUD, it is serviced by a contractor, and if the property is not cleaned up, we will file a lawsuit and we will hold the servicer accountable.”