Obtaining a vacant property has many components to consider. First many of these homes are owned by a bank, managed by a property maintenance company or have fallen off the radar completely.

Many times, vacant properties are vacant for some time awaiting foreclosure or tax auction. Many are in limbo when the owner is deceased, and even more fall into an abandonment situation which hasn’t been fully recognized by anyone other than direct neighbors who see the property as vacant.

In certain instances there may not be a mortgage on a property or the mortgage holder may decide not to pursue a foreclosure action through the courts. If the homeowner or lender continues to pay the property taxes, then tax foreclosure is not an option to obtain or transfer title to this abandoned property. In either of these situations, local governments have a powerful tool that can be used to put the property to more productive use. Through an Article 19-A Abandonment Action, a municipality can institute a special proceeding by which they can seek title to an abandoned dwelling.

The City of Rochester has successfully obtained title to a number of vacant properties through Abandonment Action Proceedings. This process can be a very efficient and effective tool to expedite the transfer of ownership. However, currently it can only be used if the property has been found to be unsecured. By amending the New York State Real Property Action and Proceedings Law to include any property that has been vacant for a certain period of time, municipalities could utilize Article 19-A Abandonment Actions to address many long-standing vacant structures.

Neighborhood Revitalization Program
The SONYMA Neighborhood Revitalization program or NRP is a grant program designed to address vacant properties by giving grants to home buyers.

If the property is located in Irondequoit, Gates, Greece or the City of Rochester and the buyer can:
1. Qualify for a SONYMA Mortgage
2. Purchase a Vacant Home
3. Meet income guidelines

They may qualify for the SONYMA allocation of $20,000 of funding for individual homes. The Greater Rochester Housing Partnership had an additional $35,000 in grant funding that can be used in conjunction with SONYMA’s grant for a total of $55,000.

The grant is designed to cover the costs of health and safety issues first (Lead paint, roof, windows) and once those issues have been addressed the homeowner may choose how to spend remaining funds on the home.

The grant does require that you occupy the home once it is done and for 10 years. If the homeowner has to sell, it must be to another income eligible buyer. The best part is that GRHP manages the rehab and all you do is move in post completion.

For more information contact:
Jill Richards
Greater Rochester Housing Partnership