PA 09-144—sSB 951

Banks Committee

Planning and Development Committee

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING NEIGHBORHOOD PROTECTION

SUMMARY: This act creates a registration system for tracking the owners of uninhabited one- to four-family dwellings obtained by strict foreclosure or foreclosure by sale (“registrants”). It specifically allows municipalities to enforce against a registrant any provision of the statutes or municipal ordinance on the repair or maintenance of real estate after the municipality has provided notice and an opportunity to remedy the situation.

The act prohibits municipalities from imposing registration requirements outside of the act unless they were in effect before the act's effective date. It also prohibits municipalities from adopting property maintenance ordinances or regulations that apply only to people who obtained title by foreclosure. However, any such ordinances or regulations adopted before the act's effective date remain in effect and municipalities can enact or enforce ordinances or regulations that apply generally to all property owners. The act also provides that these provisions do not prohibit or limit a municipality from adopting or enforcing an ordinance or regulation adopted under statutes relating to (1) the prevention of housing blight, (2) the maintenance of safe and sanitary housing, or (3) the abatement of nuisances.

Finally, the act extends an existing law allowing municipalities to recover from the real estate's owner, expenses incurred for the inspection, repair, demolition, removal, or other disposition of real estate to make it safe and sanitary. It does this by allowing for the recovery for expenses incurred (1) for maintenance and (2) to remedy a blighted condition on the real estate. The law allows the municipality in these situations to place a lien on the owner's interest in the real estate or an insurance policy covering the real estate, but limits the insurance policy provisions to property other than single- or two-family dwellings. The act specifies that this limitation does not apply to properties subject to the registration requirements.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2009

REGISTRATION

The properties must be registered with the town clerk of the municipality in which they are located or with the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), an online system the real estate finance industry created for originating, selling, and servicing rights. The deadline for doing this depends on when the property becomes vacant. If the property is vacant on the day title vests, then it must be registered within 10 days of that date. If the property becomes vacant due to an execution of ejectment or eviction within 120 days after title vests, then it must be registered within 10 days after the property becomes vacant.

If the registration is with the municipality, the registrant must pay a $100 fee. If the registrant is an individual, he or she must provide his or her name, address, telephone number, and electronic mail address (“contact information”). If the registrant is a corporation or an individual who resides out-of-state, it must also provide the contact information for a direct contact. In either case, the registrant must also provide the contact information for the local property maintenance company responsible for the security and maintenance of the vacant residential property, if there is one. The registrant must indicate whether it prefers to be contacted by first class or electronic mail and the preferred addresses for such communications and must report any changes in the registration information within 10 days after the date of the change.

Those registering with MERS must provide contact information for either the registrant or the property maintenance company, if there is one.

VIOLATIONS AND DUE PROCESS

If the registrant violates any state law or municipal ordinance on the repair or maintenance of real estate, the municipality can issue a notice citing the violating conditions. The notice must be sent by first class or electronic mail, or both, and must be sent to the address or addresses identified on the registration. A copy of the notice must be sent by first class or electronic mail to the identified local property maintenance company, if there is one. The notice must also meet the same standards as notices to remedy a health, housing, or safety code violation (i. e. , notice must be sent to the lienholder).

The notice must provide a date by which the registrant can remedy the conditions in question. The date must be reasonable under the circumstances. If the registrant or property maintenance company fails to do so, the municipality can enforce its rights under the relevant statute or ordinance.

The act allows municipalities to use the act's notice procedure when enforcing property maintenance and repair ordinances and statutes against registrants.

OLR Tracking: SC: JR: JL: DF