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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: March 24, 2016 09:28 AM
From: Senator John P. Blake and Sen. David G. Argall
To: All Senate members
Subject: Expedited foreclosure for vacant and abandoned property
In the near future, we will introduce legislation that provides for an accelerated foreclosure process for vacant and abandoned property. Given the bipartisan and bicameral work of the Blight Task Force in this effort, Representative Chris Ross will introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Blighted properties continue to be a major problem for our boroughs, townships and cities. Local officials tell us that many properties in foreclosure are abandoned. These properties often become dangerous eyesores that reduce the property values of taxpaying homeowners in the neighborhood. Studies show that these properties become prime locations for increased criminal activity, thereby reducing public safety.

The foreclosure process in Pennsylvania lasts from 300 to 540 days. In that time, these properties continue to decay and to deplete municipal resources. With reduced property values for neighbors, the housing market stagnates. Through our bill, we can reduce the timeframe for foreclosure on abandoned and vacant properties by 240 days.

Specifically, this bill will limit the use of the “fast track” foreclosure process to vacant and abandoned properties. It provides a process to have a property certified as vacant and abandoned, either by a municipal code officer or through judicial certification, before an expedited foreclosure may commence. The legislation also specifies the process a lender must follow when using expedited foreclosure on these properties.

Our bill is the culmination of three years of work by the bicameral, bipartisan Blight Task Force. Stakeholders, including representatives of local government, the banking community and housing advocates have been involved in the discussion and drafting processes. Additionally, we received testimony on the draft legislation in a joint hearing of the House Urban Affairs Committee and the Senate Urban Affairs and Housing Committee.

Since 2009, seven states have enacted “fast-track” foreclosure laws as a way to help local governments and responsible taxpayers maintain and rebuild their communities.

Introduced as SB1191