Hundreds of Schenectady property owners are going to get some unpleasant mail for Christmas.
The city is beginning foreclosure proceedings against 450 properties. Notification is going out this month, to both owners and creditors.
The number of creditors far outweighs the property owners.
“The number of people who need to be served is approximately 1,520,” said Corporation Counsel John Polster. “That’s almost four people per property. There are some properties that have one and some that have 10.”
He’s filing his list with the court next week and notification will go out in about two weeks, he said. Property owners will have about three months to get the money to save their houses.
“It’s our hope that people will now come in and pay, so things will fall off,” he said.
But Polster thinks he will end up foreclosing on more than 200 properties.
“It would be great if half came in and paid. You can say I’m hopeful for half,” he said.
Last year, in the first round of foreclosures, about 200 owners paid up. Another 157 properties were taken.
The owners who are at risk of losing their houses this time were generally not in the first round because they paid their taxes in 2009 or 2010. But they haven’t paid their taxes in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
If they don’t pay, they’ll lose their property in March or April.
Polster said he’s starting the process now so the city does not seize the properties until spring. Last time, the city took the properties in September and wound up paying to winterize all of them.
“We don’t want to do that. You run into all sorts of issues with winterizing them,” he said. “We don’t have the [seasonal] SNAP crews during the winter to secure properties.”
And there’s less opportunity to sell the properties in the winter. The first properties in last year’s foreclosures did not sell until this summer.
None of the properties in this round owe taxes to American Tax Funding. The city is still battling in court with ATF over 214 properties that owe both entities. Both sides want to have the power to foreclose, which would erase the property’s debt to the other side.
No decision has been issued in that case.