BLG Newsletter: Zombie Properties -- Abandoned Properties in Disrepair

by Candice J. Gundel, Esq.

 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) assists consumers by regulating banks, credit agencies, and financial companies.  The CFPB is now taking an interest in zombie properties and together with the Community Association Institute (CAI) is asking for our help to report and regulation zombie properties and the banks responsible for them.  The CFPB has rules requiring banks to maintain distressed properties during the pendency of a mortgage foreclosure.

 

A zombie property occurs when: 1) the homeowner abandons the property, 2) the bank initiates a lien foreclosure but is not moving diligently to complete the case.   Approximately 20% of properties in mortgage foreclosure are characterized as zombie properties.   These abandoned properties are often in disrepair and a burden on surrounding homeowners and the community association.   I encourage you to work with your collection attorney to determine which properties in your community are “zombies” and file a complaint with CFPB.  Filing the complaint will increase awareness of the issue with the intent that the CFPB will be able to enforce the bank’s responsibility to maintain the property.

 

How do you submit a complaint about a zombie property to CFPB?

Visit, HTTP://WWW.CONSUMERFINANCE.GOV/COMPLAINT

1.     Select the category "Mortgage" from the options on the screen.

2.     Click the blue tab that reads "Get started"

3.     Tell the CFPB your association's story in the area provided for the description of the incidence. Be sure to stress the length of time that a property has been awaiting foreclosure, the effects the bank's inaction has had on the association, and any other problems that have been caused by the bank's failure to timely complete the foreclosure.

4.     Below the narration field, check the box that states, "I want the CFPB to publish this description on consumerfinance.gov so that others can learn from my experience." This will allow others to see the negative impact a bank can have on a community association when delaying foreclosure.

5.     Below the check box, in the area labeled "which part of the mortgage process is your issue related to," select the field that reads "Problems when you are unable to pay" Loan modification, foreclosure

6.     Check "No" for the question, "Are you concerned about losing your home to foreclosure?"

7.     Next select "Other" from the drop down box that reads "My loan is a(n):

8.     After selecting "Other" a field will appear asking you to specify the issue. Enter "bank delayed foreclosure"

9.     You will now be taken to a page that will allow you to enter your desired resolution. Explain that you would like the bank to maintain the property and complete the foreclosure process in a timely manner so that the association may preserve the financial health and security of other homeowners living within the community. Give examples on what steps the bank can take to alleviate the financial burden on the association and its homeowners.

10.   Clicking "continue" takes you to another page which will ask you to complete your personal contact information.

11.   Upon completion of your contact info, click "continue" once more and you will then be required to provide the name of the bank. The CFPB will forward your complaint directly to the institution named. You may also upload any supporting documents or materials that may be appropriate.

12.   When finished, click "continue" one more time to be taken to a review screen of your entered information.

13.   When finished, click "Submit" at the bottom of the page and the CFPB will forward your complaint to the respective company. Your complaint will also be published as part of the CFPB's complaint database.

Send CAI an email (government@caionline.org) to notify us you filed a complaint.  This will help us quantify the problem for Members of Congress as it will support our advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill.