By John Burton
RED BANK — The owners of properties in foreclosure must still maintain them, and an ordinance proposed at last week’s borough council meeting is intended to ensure that they do.
The ordinance introduced last Wednesday would require property owners to provide specific contact information that would enable borough officials, or members of the public, to get in touch with the owners if the property isn’t being cared for properly.
According to Mayor Pasquale Menna state and local laws require owners to maintain their property, whether they are present or not. But in the last couple of years, as the rate of foreclosures has escalated and properties have changed hands, it has become difficult to track down who is actually responsible for a given property.
Over the past few years in towns and cities across the nation, thousands of homes formerly owned by families or individuals have been acquired by banks through foreclosure. Mortgages have changed hands and banks have been absorbed by other banks. Under those circumstances, it can be difficult to track down who is actually responsible should a property be neglected.
Under current state law, if a bank or other lender forecloses on a property the bank has to send notification to the municipality.
The ordinance proposed in Red Bank would also require the lender to pay a $125 fee and register with the borough, providing a contact name and telephone number of the party responsible for maintenance.
Should the ordinance be approved later this month, the institution responsible for the property would also be required to place a permanent sign on the site with contact information informing the public how to get in touch. “So we are not, and the neighbors are not, tracking down nameless banks all over the country,” Menna explained.
“We’re going to put the burden on them to make sure their records are up to date.”
The ordinance, the mayor explained, was modeled after one used successfully in Lodi.
At this point there are approximately 100 to 125 properties in foreclosure in the borough, according to the borough clerk’s office.