WHITE PLAINS, NY: County Clerk Tim Idoni has initiated a program to alert Westchester municipalities that a foreclosure proceeding has been commenced by a lending institution against a local property owner. Foreclosed properties are quite often abandoned or kept in disrepair during the process, harming the local neighborhood, or ignored by the bank or financial institution filing the foreclosure.

The Clerk’s Westchester Records Online (WRO) has prepared reports on the filing of foreclosure proceedings and judgments on such properties for a number of years. The reports were often purchased by private entities to ascertain the availability of certain properties on the market. These reports are still available for a fee.

But Idoni has now made the reports available free of charge to local governments as a way of monitoring the property condition as the process moves forward. Access is done through the WRO legal system.

Quite often the homes are abandoned. More often they are left in disrepair as the owners just cannot afford to put any more money into maintenance. Some municipalities have passed local laws allowing the government to do basic maintenance on the property such as lawn cutting and then filing a lien for the cost, which is captured upon the sale of the property. Idoni sponsored such legislation in the City of New Rochelle during his time as mayor.

The Clerk’s Office has also worked with local not-for-profits in attempting to avoid foreclosures and help owners retain ownership. The key is to catch the process early.

Idoni said, “This partnership with our local government is a form of shared services, whereby our data collection and court filing system can assist in keeping our neighborhoods clean and our property owners protected.”

Letters have gone out to every municipality notifying them of the availability of the reports and offering direct assistance. Residents facing foreclosure can contact Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for available assistance programs. An extensive list of resources available to homeowners in distress is available at New York Courts court help.