New York passes law to fight 'zombie properties'

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York is imposing new requirements on mortgage lenders to maintain abandoned houses before foreclosure.

The law signed Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatens banks with civil penalties up to $500 a day for failing to maintain residential properties once they're aware of the vacancies.

The old law required they take responsibility following a foreclosure judgment. Cuomo says that has left hundreds of "zombie properties" across the state.

The new law also establishes an electronic statewide registry of abandoned homes, establishes a state hotline where neighbors can report them and requires notices to mortgage borrowers emphasizing their right to stay in houses until foreclosure.

A related measure establishes a State of New York Mortgage Agency fund to buy and sell abandoned properties at below-market rates and demolish those beyond repair.