A new law allows New Jersey municipalities to adopt ordinances to regulate the care and maintenance of foreclosed properties.

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Signed into law this month, the law holds out-of-state creditors responsible for the maintenance of residential property through the appointment of an in-state representative to work with the municipality.

"By having an agent designated, it allows a municipality to go after that agent on behalf of the foreclosing bank, and collect what it needs to collect to keep the properties upkeep," said State Senator Chris Connors, the measure's sponsor.

While existing laws already require creditors to maintain their foreclosed properties, Connors said having an agent streamlines the process and enables municipalities to better enforce local ordinances and avoid jurisdictional issues.

Additionally, having the agent allows municipalities to have more oversight on maintenance in cases where the bank is outside of New Jersey and lets them hold a local entity responsible in cases of negligence.

"If [municipalities] do not receive a reply [from local agents or the banks], the municipality can either evoke court action by way of an injunction or they can actually perform the required maintenance and repairs themselves assess it as a lien against the property," Connors said.

Unmaintained homes can adversely affect the property values of surrounding residents, Connors said, especially in a struggling real estate market.

"They become eyesores the neighborhood, thereby causing a devalue in property in the communities."

Provisions of the new law take effect immediately.

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