Montgomery Proposal Aims to Crack Down on ‘Zombie Foreclosures’

Buyers of foreclosed properties in Montgomery County who fail to register their purchases with the state within 30 days would face $1,000-a-day fines under a bill introduced Tuesday by Council member Tom Hucker.

The 2012 state law requiring such registrations was aimed primarily at lenders and investors who buy foreclosed properties but delay formal transfer of the title, making it difficult for authorities to identify who is responsible for payment of taxes, condominium fees or other obligations.

From The Washington Post,

Critics say such “zombie foreclosures” — which can linger as long as nine to 18 months — contribute to blight and reduced property values.

A provision of the state law allows localities to levy the $1,000 fine.

Hucker (D-Silver Spring) said state data shows that 34 percent of foreclosures in the county during fiscal 2015 were either unregistered or were registered long after the 30-day deadline had elapsed.

“This will give the county an overdue tool,” Hucker said. “Having a meaningful penalty for these violations of state law will be a deterrent.”

Hucker introduced a companion bill that would require owners of vacant residential buildings that are in poor condition to register with the county’s housing department and pay fees to be set by the county executive. He said his office receives numerous complaints about vacant structures that are not properly maintained.

A public hearing on both bills is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 18.

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