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TOP REAL ESTATE LEGAL ISSUES:

WHAT’S TRENDING NOW

Zombies are fictional “undead” beings created from the reanimation of a human corpse popular in movies and on television.

Unfortunately, many community associations are now finding themselves dealing with “Zombie Homes.”

A “Zombie Home” is created by a lender which begins but does not complete a foreclosure combined with an owner walking away from the property. Lenders often delay their own foreclosure proceedings to avoid taking title to the property for as long as possible and the obligation to pay assessments that comes along with it.

“Zombie Homes” reduce the values of neighboring properties and keep community associations from collecting badly needed assessments which will likely never be recouped. Zombie properties can remain in limbo for months or even years.

Community associations can file their own foreclosure on Zombie properties. Such a lawsuit requires the association to invest both time and money which, again, may never be recovered. Association foreclosures often result in the association itself obtaining title to the unit since purchasers generally are unwilling to buy units with little if any equity subject to a first mortgage. Associations that take title can break even and sometimes make a small profit by renting a property if it is in good shape and located in in a positive rental market. If not, merely owning a unit does nothing for the association.

In addition to a foreclosure action, community associations now have the means to file a complaint regarding “Zombie Homes.” The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created in 2010 to, among other things, protect homeowners from dealing with unscrupulous mortgage servicers. Consumers may file a complaint – including complaints about Zombie Homes in their community ­ through CFBP’s online portal http://1.usa.gov/M5paKD. Further instructions on how to file such a complaint are available on the Community Associations Institute’s website, http://bit.ly/1OeBckl.