Proposed bills aim to hold slumlords accountable

May 2, 2014

Two new pieces of legislation aim to protect homeowners and hold slumlords accountable for their blighted properties in western New York.

Senator Tim Kennedy is among the many legislators calling for passage of the bills which are expected to empower municipalities to support community revitalization, protect and improve property values and attract new homeowners to resurgent neighborhoods.

Dilapidated homes on Buffalo's east side
Credit WBFO News file photo

“Residents are frustrated about the harm and blight brought to our communities by the negligence of absentee landlords and the dilapidated properties that really bring down the value of our community, not just in property value, but the quality of life. We want to make sure we’re going after these slumlords and we’re making sure that those individuals are lining their pockets at the expense of our community are rooted out,” said Kennedy.

The first bill would establish new authorization for municipalities to enact local law to treat unpaid fines for housing-code violations as delinquent property taxes. If the fines are un-paid the property will become eligible for tax foreclosure by the city.

Kennedy says the proposal ensures that slumlords pay up or risk foreclosure. He says the second bill ensures that municipalities can keep unclaimed surplus funds when foreclosed properties are sold at auction and direct the funds to the city’s weatherization and home-repair programs.

“So essentially the legislative effort seeks to reverse the trajectory of a negative cycle of blight and decline that these slumlords have brought to our community and other communities across New York State and ensure that there’s accountability in neighborhood community and development,” said Kennedy.

Kennedy says the two bills were created to compliment Project Slumlord, which seeks to hold banks accountable for keeping up properties after they’re abandoned by homeowners and banks commence foreclosure.