New Jersey has passed legislation to impose greater financial penalties for failure to register properties.
As of August 1, 2018, businesses and landlords of multi-family rentals in New Jersey must obtain a certificate of insurance and annually register with the towns where the company or rental unit is located.
In 2022, New Jersey passed a bill in response to a court ruling on fees collected for vacant property registrations, McCormick 106 L.L.C vs Community Champions. This lawsuit was filed against three towns, the Atlantic County Improvement Authority and Community Champions A.K.A ProChamps.
ProChamps was the vendor the towns used to collect the fees. According to the plaintiff Community Champions collected combined $2.8 million in foreclosure and vacant property registration fees for the other defendants. Community Champions was authorized to retain a percentage of the collected fees. The suit argued that these sums were unreasonable, and that Community Champions did not have authority to collect these fees.
Residing Judge Mendez, dealt a blow to the cities and Communities Champions with its ruling on this matter. In August 2021, Mendez granted summary judgment to McCormick 106 LLC. This ruling brought into question the future of contracts between local governments and ProChamps.
The response by the state of New Jersey was to give cities more power to resume the practice of collecting fees on homes in foreclosure, instead of addressing the systemic issues with the process.
ProChamps, a Florida based company, compiles records of foreclosed homes and imposes hefty registration fees on their owners. The company receives a portion of the fees collected.
What has not been addressed, is the conflict involved in this scheme. The other side of the Community Champion's company, charges a fee to mortgage companies to advise them if their properties need to be registered and at what fee.
This property registration program, based on the recently enacted legislation, would require entities that foreclose on homes in New Jersey to complete a foreclosure registration:
-Regulates, defaults with a notice of default and foreclosures on commercial and residential properties, requiring that information about the property be provided, including the address, type of property, and any violations.
-Requires that a surety bond must also be maintained in an amount determined by the Division of Consumer Affairs.
-Cities can require vacant property registration and may impose fees for the upkeep, maintenance and security of vacant properties.
-Businesses and property owners who do not comply with these new laws may be subject to penalties.
The goal of the foreclosure registry process is to make sure that companies foreclosing on homes in New Jersey follow state laws and regulations, and to give consumers information about their rights. But it seems to have a more negative result.
This new law puts an extra strain on business owners, mortgage companies, and rental unit owners, and it also gives cities the ability to charge a fee to register the property. This new rule could be seen as another way for municipalities struggling to increase revenue streams. Lastly, the local authorities' implementation and the repercussions of not following it have not been fully explained to the people it will affect.
The long picture is that this registration required on foreclosed properties could hurt the state's economy by creating another burdensome regulation. The government should be focused on promoting economic development and helping the people of New Jersey, not on making it harder for businesses to operate.