[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Lower Paxton 11-21-2017 by Ord. No. 17-14. Amendments noted where applicable.]
It is the purpose and intent of the Board of Supervisors to establish a process to address the deterioration, crime and decline in value of neighborhoods caused by property with defaulted mortgages located within the Township, and to identify, regulate, limit and reduce the number of these properties located within the Township. It is the Supervisors' further intent to establish a registration requirement as a mechanism to protect neighborhoods from the negative impact and conditions that occur as a result of vacancy, absentee ownership lack of adequate maintenance and security and will provide a method to expeditiously identify contact persons for each property responsible for this protection.
It is not the intent of this chapter to determine the rights and liabilities of persons under agreements to which Lower Paxton Township is not a party. This chapter shall not be construed to alter the terms of any lease or other agreement between a landlord and a tenant or others relating to property that is the subject of this chapter; provided that no provision of any lease or other agreement shall be construed to excuse compliance with this chapter. Additionally, a violation of this chapter shall not in and of itself create negligence per se standard or otherwise expand existing liability in tort for either a landlord or a tenant.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning.
- ACCESSIBLE PROPERTY/STRUCTURE
- A property that is accessible through a compromised/breached gate, fence, wall, etc., or a structure that is unsecured and/or breached in such a way as to allow access to the interior space by unauthorized persons.
- APPLICABLE CODES
- To include, but not be limited to, Lower Paxton Township's Zoning Ordinance, Property Maintenance Code, Solid Waste and Recyclables Ordinance, and the State and Township Building and Fire Codes.
- That the mortgagor has not complied with the terms of the mortgage on the property, or the promissory note, or other evidence of the debt, referred to in the mortgage.
- ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
- Any law enforcement officer, Building Official, Zoning Officer, Codes Enforcement Officer, Fire Marshal, or other person authorized by Lower Paxton Township to enforce the applicable code(s).
- The legal process by which a mortgagee, or other lien holder, terminates a property owner's equitable right of redemption to obtain legal and equitable title to the real property pledged as security for a debt or the real property subject to the lien. This definition shall include, but is not limited to, public notice of default, a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, sale to the mortgagee or lien holder, certificate of title and all other processes, activities and actions, by whatever name, associated with the described process. The process is not concluded until the property obtained by the mortgagee, lien holder, or their designee, by certificate of title, or any other means, is sold to a nonrelated bona fide purchaser in an arm's length transaction to satisfy the debt or lien.
- The creditor, including but not limited to, trustees; mortgage servicing companies; lenders in a mortgage agreement; any agent, servant, or employee of the creditor; any successor in interest; or any assignee of the creditor's rights, interests or obligations under the mortgage agreement.
- Any person, firm, corporation or other legal entity who, individually or jointly or severally with others, holds the legal or beneficial title to any building, facilities, equipment or premises subject to the provisions of this chapter.
- REAL PROPERTY
- Any improved residential or commercial land, buildings, leasehold improvements and anything affixed to the land, or portion thereof identified by a property parcel identification number, located in Lower Paxton Township. Developed lots are considered improved land.
- REGISTRABLE PROPERTY
- Any real property located in Lower Paxton Township, whether vacant or occupied, that is encumbered by a mortgage in default, is subject to an ongoing foreclosure action by the mortgagee or trustee, has been the subject of a foreclosure action by a mortgagee or trustee and a judgment has been entered, or has been the subject of a foreclosure sale where the title was transferred to the beneficiary of a mortgage involved in the foreclosure and any properties transferred under a deed in lieu of foreclosure/sale.
- A. The designation of a "default/foreclosure" property as "registrable" shall remain in place until such time as the property is sold to a nonrelated bona fide purchaser in an arm's length transaction or the foreclosure action has been dismissed and any default on the mortgage has been cured.
- SEMIANNUAL REGISTRATION
- Six months from the date of the first action that requires registration, as determined by Lower Paxton Township, or its designee, and every subsequent six months. The date of the initial registration may be different than the date of the first action that required registration.
- Any parcel of land in Lower Paxton Township that is not legally occupied. Vacant property does not mean property that is temporarily unoccupied while the residents are away on vacation, personal matters or business, or is not intended by the owner to be left vacant, so long as the period does not exceed 30 days.
These sections shall be considered cumulative and not superseding or subject to any other law or provision for same, but rather be an additional remedy available to Lower Paxton Township above and beyond any other state or Township provisions for same.
Pursuant to the provisions of § 152-5, Lower Paxton Township, or its designee, shall establish a registry cataloging each registrable property within the Township, containing the information required by this chapter.
Any mortgagee who holds a mortgage on real property located within Lower Paxton Township shall perform an inspection of the property to determine vacancy or occupancy, upon default by the mortgagor. The mortgagee shall, within 10 days of the inspection, register the property with the Code Enforcement Department, or its designee, on forms or other manner as directed, and indicate whether the property is vacant or occupied. A separate registration is required for each property, whether it is found to be vacant or occupied.
Registration pursuant to this section shall contain the name, direct mailing address, a direct contact name, telephone number, and e-mail address for the mortgagee/trustee, and the mortgage servicer, and the name and twenty-four-hour contact phone number of the local property management company responsible for the security and maintenance of the property who has the authority to make decisions concerning the abatement of nuisance conditions at the property, as well as any expenditure in connection therewith.
Mortgagees who have existing registrable property on the effective date of this chapter have 30 calendar days from the effective date to register the property with the Code Enforcement Department, or its designee, on forms or other manner as directed, and indicate whether the property is vacant or occupied. A separate registration is required for each property, whether it is vacant or occupied.
Any previous unpaid registration fees are the responsibility of the new mortgagee or trustee and are due and payable with their initial registration. Except if it is determined that the transferee is exempt from paying fees then the previous mortgagee will not be released from the responsibility of paying all previous unpaid fees and fines, regardless of who the mortgagee was at the time when registration was required, including but not limited to unregistered periods during the foreclosure process. The provisions of this section are cumulative with and in addition to other available remedies.
If the servicing rights for a mortgage on a registrable property are sold or transferred, the registration must be updated to include all the new servicer information within 10 days of the servicing transfer.
Any previous unpaid registration fees are the responsibility of the new registrable property owner and are due and payable with their initial registration. Except if it is determined that the transferee is exempt from paying fees then the previous mortgagee will not be released from the responsibility of paying all previous unpaid fees and fines, regardless of who the mortgagee was at the time when registration was required, including but not limited to unregistered periods during the foreclosure process. The provisions of this section are cumulative with and in addition to other available remedies.
As long as the property is registrable it shall be inspected by the mortgagee, or designee, monthly. If an inspection shows a change in the property's occupancy status the mortgagee shall, within 10 days of that inspection, update the occupancy status of the property registration.
A nonrefundable semiannual registration fee of $300 shall accompany each registration pursuant to this section.
If a lis pendens, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, or other public notice of foreclosure is filed on a property and the property was not registered and the registration fee paid at least 30 days prior to the filing date, a late fee shall be charged. The late fee shall be the equivalent to 10% of the registration fee and shall be charged for every 30 days period, or portion thereof, the property is not registered and shall be due and payable with the registration. This section shall apply to the initial registration and thirty-day delinquent registration renewals. Registrations delinquent greater than 30 days are also subject to additional fines as described herein.
All registration fees must be paid directly from the mortgagee, trustee, servicer, or owner. Third-party registration fees are not allowed without the consent of Lower Paxton Township and/or its authorized designee.
Properties subject to this section shall remain under the semiannual registration requirement, and the inspection, security and maintenance standards of this section as long as they are registrable.
Until the mortgage or lien on the property in question is satisfied, or legally discharged, the desire to no longer pursue foreclosure, the filing of a dismissal of lis pendens and/or summary of final judgment and/or certificate of title, voluntary or otherwise, does not exempt any mortgagee holding the defaulted mortgage, from all the requirements of this chapter as long as the borrower is in default.
Any person or legal entity that has registered a property under this section must report any change of information contained in the registration within 10 days of the change.
Failure of the mortgagee to properly register or to modify the registration information within 10 days of the action requiring the update to reflect a change of circumstances as required by this chapter is a violation of the article and shall be subject to enforcement and any resulting monetary penalties and/or property liens.
Pursuant to any administrative or judicial finding and determination that any property is in violation of this chapter, Lower Paxton Township may take the necessary action to ensure compliance with and place a lien on the property for the cost of the work performed to benefit the property and bring it into compliance.
Properties subject to this chapter shall be maintained in accordance with the applicable code(s) of Lower Paxton Township.