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Lackawanna zombie home cleared for sale

The zombie house at 79 Warsaw Avenue that prompted Lackawanna officials to consider fining the lender up to $500 a day has been cleared for sale, said a city official.

"The lender Ditech Financial contacted the realtor and informed her it was releasing the lien on the Warsaw Avenue property," said Fred K. Heinle, director of development.

The property which had fallen into disrepair is now for sale, said Heinle. It has already drawn an offer of $16,000, he said.

Under the Foreclosure Relief Act, the lender of a zombie home faces civil penalties of up to $500 a day if it fails to maintain and secure a residential property that has a reasonable expectation of being vacant and abandoned.

In the case of 79 Warsaw, the owner fell behind on the mortgage payments triggering foreclosure proceedings that led her to move to an apartment in Hamburg, said Heinle.

Despite multiple attempts to sell the house, which had been cited for numerous code violations, the lender refused to cooperate, said Heinle.

"Before we haul people into court we can ticket property owners for code violations," said Heinle. First offenses generally draw fines from $25 to $50, he said.

Lackawanna was awarded a $100,000 grant from the state attorney general's office that will be used to educate homeowners of their legal rights in the event of a foreclosure.

"We don't want people to pack up and leave," said Heinle. "They are legally entitled to stay in the property during the legal process."



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