Town of Boston takes advantage of new law to sue mortage company for zombie home

Sep 23, 2019

One of the earliest lawsuits against a mortgage industry company for its handling of a zombie home looms for a Town of Boston property. Town Supervisor Jason Keding said the town is close to going to court against a mortgage servicer because the home is not being kept up.

A recent state law requires mortgage companies in foreclosure proceedings to maintain properties and continue to pay taxes. Some do and some do not.

Keding said a neighbor started this case involving a home on West Hill Road.

"The resident had expressed concern regarding vermin that he could see running across the driveway," he said. "The roof on the house, the shingles were in very poor condition. The back alcove had actually been either broken or ripped off the backside of the house. Nobody knows for sure since it's a vacant property."

Keding said zombies aren't just urban.

"Zombie properties can be anywhere. They could be, truthfully, here in the Town of Boston, as they are," Keding said. "We've identified a second property that is potentially coming up, based on our research, as a second zombie property. There have been zombie properties in other surrounding communities that are substantially larger and your median household income is actually substantially higher than here in the Town of Boston."

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns said there are 1,000 pending foreclosures sitting in his office, so the problem won't go away. The zombie homes are across the county and every  muncipality.

Kearns has worked with local supervisors and mayors and the Western New York Law Center to help smaller governments deal with the zombies. He said this Boston zombie home is a legal opportunity.

"It's a perfectly good home, and the bank and the service provider did not keep up with the property and we're looking at that," Kearn said. "So under the law, the town has to inspect the property three times to prove that it's vacant and then we have the opportunity to go to court."