Zombie Homes

Zombie Homes Initiative

image of a run-down abandoned home.

“Zombie homes” can be defined as vacant, deteriorated small homes whose owners are behind on their mortgage payments. 

These properties are symbols of the effects of the foreclosure crisis in neighborhoods throughout the city. Owners of small homes are confronted with rising operating and maintenance costs, encounter barriers to credit, and struggle to make mortgage payments.

Thanks to funding from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, HPD launched the Zombie Homes Initiative in July 2017. Through this initiative HPD, conducts exterior surveys of zombie homes, aggregates information about zombie homes through a new database, and designs new approaches to return zombie homes to productive use.

HPD inspector taking notes outdoors.

Additionally, HPD helps enforce the Zombie Property and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2016 (the “Zombie Law”), state legislation requiring lenders and servicers to inspect, secure, maintain, and report zombie homes to the New York State Department of Financial Services. HPD collects evidence of zombie homes that are not being maintained and share it with the New York City Law Department, which pursues legal action against the banks and servicers as appropriate.

What You Can Do

Request City Action

 If you believe a particular property requires City action, please follow these steps:

  • If the building presents an immediate danger or you suspect any illegal activity, please call 911.
  • If the building appears unsecured or structurally unsound, please report it to 311 for a Department of Buildings inspection.
  • If there is a public health risk (e.g. rodent activity, dirty sidewalk, or standing water that breeds mosquitoes), please report it to 311 for a lot clean-up.

HPD cannot facilitate the sale of zombie homes.

Call the Homeowner Hotline

If you are struggling to make mortgage payments, please call the Center for New York City Neighborhoods Homeowner Hotline at (646) 786-0888. The Center provides a variety of free and high-quality services for homeowners.

Submit a Complaint to the NYS Department of Financial Services

You may also file a complaint with the New York State Department of Financial Services to help gather evidence of mortgage holders’ non-compliance with the NYS Zombie Property and Foreclosure Prevention Act. File a complaint by calling their consumer complaint hotline at (800) 342-3736 or by filling out a consumer complaint form. Please note that this form is not a substitute for submitting a complaint to 311 or 911.


The HPD Zombie Homes Initiative: A Lender and Servicer's Guide to Managaing Vacant Homes provides an overview of the City programs and policies concerning vacant, small homes.