Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan recently signed into law a fast-track foreclosure bill that will expedite the foreclosure process for vacant properties.
Last year, the state of Ohio passed a similar measure, with the intent to reduce community blight.
“Blight caused by vacant properties is a serious problem in certain Maryland communities,” says Marvin Holmes, Maryland state delegate and sponsor of the approved house bill, in a statement. “The longer properties remain vacant, the greater the chance problems will occur, including vandalism, crime and lower property values.”
It is expected that additional states with blight problems in their cities will move forward with their own fast-track foreclosure bills. Other states that are looking at similar measures include New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
The new Maryland law accelerates the foreclosure process to as little as six months in certain situations, enabling a mortgage servicer in many cases to get possession of the property before it deteriorates and increasing the likelihood it can be rehabilitated and sold.
It’s important to note that the fast-tracking only applies to vacant properties – the law is not intended to get occupants of foreclosed properties out of their homes faster. Rather, Maryland’s law requires that numerous steps be taken to ensure a property is, indeed, vacant and abandoned. Parties to the foreclosure process must demonstrate this by satisfying at least three of 11 specific criteria, including, for example, that utilities have been disconnected and that windows and entrances are boarded up.
The new state law also offers significant protections for homeowners, including a requirement that secured parties serve a petition for expedited foreclosure on the mortgagor and post a notice on the property, as well as allowing the record owner of the property to challenge any finding that the property is vacant and abandoned.
Maryland’s fast-track foreclosure bill passed the Maryland General Assembly unanimously in April and was signed by Hogan at the end of May.
To view a copy of the state Senate bill, click here.
For the House version, click here.