Legislator Burke Fights Zombie Housing with Common Sense Reform

Erie County, New York- Legislator Patrick Burke has put forth a resolution to reduce the blight of zombie housing in Erie County. The resolution, which maintains bipartisan support in the Legislature, advocates for a Home Rule Request seeking permission from New York State to amend the Erie County Tax Act. The decision will allow Albany to decrease the allotted time for vacant properties to sit in foreclosure from two years to 1 year. Thereby fighting against the nearly 1,000 vacant homes deemed “zombie houses” in Erie County.

“This is an issue that has long affected much of Erie County, especially my district in South Buffalo and Cheektowaga. Currently a vacant home will sit for up to two years before it is foreclosed upon. During this time the bank isn’t legally responsible for property maintenance, and since the house is vacant homeowners aren’t maintaining the property either. This is what creates the zombie houses we are all so used to seeing: tall unkempt grass, flooded basements, and broken windows. When homes become like this, it often falls to municipalities to do the work- which passes the burden onto taxpayers. These zombie houses negatively impact property values and decrease the curb appeal of neighborhoods. Forcing banks to take responsibility for these properties provides relief and increases quality of life for not only the neighbors, but for all."

“I want to be clear. This resolution will not kick homeowners out of their houses. The language specifically states that the rule change is for homes that have been certified vacant by the municipalities. These are cases in which people choose to walk away from their homes and no longer reside in the dwelling” Burke said.