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Foreclosure risk for 1,300 unless homeowners make deal soon

silive.com | April 11, 2015

By Virginia N. Sherry

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Next month, the city will sell unpaid and long-overdue property tax, water-sewer charges, and other liens that have accumulated on almost 1,300 Staten Island single-family homes, co-ops and condominiums -- unless the owners pay the debts or enter into payment agreements no later than May 14.

Most of the homes on the Department of Finance's 60-day lien-sale list -- 679 of them, or 53 percent of the total -- are located within the boundaries of Community Board 1, which encompasses all of the North Shore and several neighborhoods on the East Shore, including Rosebank, Fort Wadsworth, Clifton and Concord.

The remaining properties fall within the boundaries of borough Community Boards 2 and 3, with 308 of them (25 percent of the total) on the South Shore, stretching from New Dorp and Bay Terrace all the way to Tottenville.

Another 289 properties are located in Community Board 2, the Mid-Island region.

The statistics are based on analysis of the Department of Finance lien-sale list by the nonprofit Center for New York City Neighborhoods.

Rising annual property taxes have long been a hot-button issue in this borough of middle-income homeowners.

Huge Amounts of Unpaid Property Taxes

For property owners who have not paid annually what's due, the amount of accumulated arrears is stunning in some individual cases.

On the North Shore, for example, Port Richmond Avenue has a number of properties with outstanding property tax bills, including a limited liability company with $36,767 unpaid on one building and $31,392 unpaid and overdue on an adjacent building, according to Finance Department pubic records that the Advance examined on April 6.

Properties in the borough's lower-income communities are not the only ones in arrears.

On the East Shore, one small apartment building on Richmond Road in Dongan Hills has outstanding property-tax arrears of $36,919, according to Department of Finance records.

Also on Richmond Road, the owner of an office building has accumulated $13,667 in unpaid taxes, city records indicate.

On prestigious Flagg Place, the owner of a one-family home owes $28,277 in unpaid property taxes, according to Finance Department data.

And back to the North Shore:

Two properties on hilltop Tompkins Circle in Tompkinsville are behind $22,806 and $22,783, respectively, in property taxes owed to the city.

5 Things to Know About the Upcoming Lien Sale

  1. The city holds a tax lien sale every year, selling the lien debt -- the outstanding amount that property owners owe -- to "an authorized buyer," the Finance Department says.
  2. "A lien servicing company, on behalf of the buyer, adds more fees and interest to your debt, so it is much better to take care of your debt before we sell the lien," the agency tells property owners.
  3. "We send you at least four notices before your lien is sold, telling you about the sale and advising you to pay your debts so that your property's lien does not get sold," the Finance Department cautions.
  4. "Dishonest lenders know that if your property is on the lien sale list, you owe the City money," the Department of Finance cautions. "These lenders try to take advantage of your financial situation, and you could lose your property. Be sure to research all lenders, seek guidance from independent sources, and be careful," the agency advises. "Do not risk losing your home to a predatory lender if you cannot pay back the money you borrow."
  5. For Staten Island owners with homes or other properties on the lien-sale list, three city agencies will hold an outreach and information session on April 16 at 350 St. Marks Place in St. George, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., providing one-on-one customer assistance.

The Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development are sponsoring the outreach session along with the Department of Finance.


Back to April 2015 Archive


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