Welcome to the New York State Zombies Initiative Website

What is the New York State Zombies Initiative?

Based on the success of the Erie County Clerk’s ZOMBIES Initiative, the New York State Zombies Initiative is a collaboration between the Office of Erie County Clerk Michael P. Kearns, the Western New York Law Center (WNYLC), the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and the Lawyering in the Digital Age Clinic at Columbia Law School.

The main goals of this initiative are:

  1. Provide information and resources to municipalities and communities across New York State facing zombie foreclosures.
  2. Connect homeowners and those facing foreclosure with organizations that provide free legal assistance or housing counseling services.

Note: this website provides information only. Nothing contained here constitutes legal advice or creates an attorney-client relationship.

How do I use this website?

If you are a municipal official looking to combat zombie properties in your community, please browse our General Information tab for background and existing research, or explore our collection of Examples and Case Models from other municipalities.

If you are a homeowner facing foreclosure you can get free legal assistance or housing counseling by contacting HOPP, the Homes/Homeowner Protection Program or calling (855) HOME-456.

 If you are a community member and would like more information on zombie properties and how to prevent and/or report them, please click here or navigate to the “Homeowners and Neighbors” page in the site menu located above.

If you would like to share documents and resources from your own municipality, please do so here. We sincerely appreciate your contribution to the project.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns, please email us at nyszombiesinitiative@wnylc.net.


What is a “zombie” property?

Zombie properties are properties where the foreclosure process has been initiated but remains incomplete, occasionally for years at a time. These vacant, abandoned, and neglected “zombie” homes eventually become a persistent blight on their neighborhoods, creating numerous safety hazards and driving down neighboring property values.

The Zombie Property and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2016 provided more avenues to combat the rise of zombie properties (NY RPAPL § 1308 – 1310). Municipalities are further empowered by the Zombie Property Remediation Act of 2019, which allows local governments to compel outstanding foreclosure proceedings.

How do zombie homes differ from vacant and abandoned homes?

While all zombie homes are vacant and abandoned, not all vacant and abandoned homes are zombie properties as defined by New York State law. Zombie properties must be confirmed as vacant and have a mortgage that is in default. Please refer to this cheatsheet and other resources on this site for more details.