CLEVELAND, April 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Groundbreaking legislation that will help Maryland communities fight and prevent blight has been hailed by one of the measure's leading advocates. Robert Klein, founder and chairman of Cleveland-based Community Blight Solutions, had urged lawmakers to enact a "fast-track" process for mortgage foreclosures on vacant and abandoned residential property.
"Outdated foreclosure laws can leave homes vacant and vulnerable for years, fostering the spread of community blight," Klein said. "Unlike a good bottle of wine, vacant properties do not get better with age."
"We have been advocating for state legislators across the country to consider legislation that will reduce the time it takes to foreclose on vacant and abandoned properties. Maryland has now put itself ahead of the national curve in fighting community blight," Klein said.
The fast-track provisions are included in Maryland HB 702/SB 1033, which passed the Maryland General Assembly unanimously (Senate vote: 47-0) (House vote: 139-0), and is on its way to Governor Hogan's desk for his signature. During the process, Community Blight Solutions worked with consumer advocates, Baltimore City and other local governments, banks and mortgage brokers to adopt amendments that improved the bill while maintaining its intent to expedite the foreclosure process. As a result, the bill was unanimously supported by all interested parties. The Maryland General Assembly adjourned its 2017 session on April 10.
"Blight caused by vacant properties is a serious problem in certain Maryland communities," said bill sponsor Delegate Marvin Holmes. "The longer properties remain vacant – the greater the chance problems will occur, including vandalism, crime and lower property values."
"HB 702/SB 1033 is the result of some very hard work between all interested stakeholders. This new law will significantly expedite the foreclosure process for vacant properties and hopefully get them back on the tax rolls as quickly as possible," said Delegate Holmes.
Maryland's new fast-track legislation comes on the heels of Ohio's ground breaking fast-track legislation which became law in June 2016. Previously in Maryland and Ohio, and those currently in other states, existing foreclosure requirements often cause vacant and abandoned properties to sit empty for two years or more and become "zombie homes" that no one has any incentive to maintain, according to Klein.
The new Maryland law accelerates the foreclosure process to as little as six months in certain situations, enabling the mortgage servicer in many cases to get possession of the property before it deteriorates and increasing the likelihood it can be rehabilitated and sold.
"No one will be forced out of their home by this law," Klein emphasized. "There are clear protections to ensure that a property is, indeed, vacant and abandoned."
HB 702/SB 1033 offers significant protections for homeowners including: requiring secured parties to serve a petition for expedited foreclosure on the mortgagor and post a notice on the property and, allowing the record owner of the property to challenge any finding that the property is vacant and abandoned. The bill authorizes a secured party to expedite the foreclosure process provided the party can demonstrate to a court that the property is vacant and abandoned by satisfying at least three (3) of eleven (11) specific criteria listed in HB 702/SB 1033 (e.g., utilities disconnected, windows and entrances boarded up).
Klein credited the ultimate approval of the fast-track provisions to the efforts of bill sponsors Delegate Marvin Holmes (District 23B, Prince George's County) and Senator Adelaide Eckardt (District 37, Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico Counties).
"This important legislation for Maryland and its residents will have an immediate and lasting impact in the effort to cure community blight and stabilize neighborhoods," said Klein. "I commend these outstanding legislators and their colleagues for bringing Maryland's foreclosure requirements into the 21st century and demonstrating the fortitude that resulted in the passage of this new legislation."
About Community Blight Solutions
Community Blight Solutions is focused on understanding, solving and eliminating the problems associated with the blight that is plaguing communities nationwide. Community Blight Solutions works closely with mortgage servicers, local government officials, legislators and policymakers at the Federal and State level, first responders and other groups to advocate for updates and changes to policy and legislation and an increase in awareness of the issues contributing to community blight. For more information, go to http://www.communityblightsolutions.com/
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SOURCE Community Blight Solutions