Council Passes Bill Strengthening Protections Against Deed Fraud Through Information

Image credit: New York City Council.

On October 21, 2021, the City Council passed legislation to help fight against deed fraud. Deed fraud is a growing problem in New York City; fraudsters have been using a variety of tactics such as offering fake home improvement services, grants for repairs, forging homeowner signatures or posing as foreclosure “rescue” companies to record fraudulent deeds, mortgages and other liens against property. Int. 1919-A, sponsored by Council Member and Chair of the Committee on Finance Daniel Dromm, aims to provide homeowners with information on how to respond if it is believed that deed fraud has occurred. 

Int. 1919-A amends Local Law 249 of 2017, which established the Notice of Recorded Document program. The program provides any party with an interest in real property a notification by mail, text or email, that a deed- or mortgage-related document has been recorded with the city register against that property. Int. 1919-A extends this program by requiring the Department of Finance to include with the notice of recorded document information about what to do if the property owner believes that fraud has occurred. The information will include whom to contact for assistance and how to file a complaint or report a criminal act. The provided information can allow homeowners to respond faster if they suspect deed fraud. 

The City Council previously held an oversight hearing regarding deed fraud in October 2020. Int. 1919-A was discussed at this hearing, in addition to other ways to promote accountability in stopping deed fraud. For CityLand’s prior coverage of this hearing, click here.

CityLand reached out to Council Member Dromm for comment. Council Member Dromm stated, I’m proud to have sponsored Int. 1919-A to strengthen the City’s efforts to combat deed fraud. Deed fraud has a devastating impact on homeowners, and particularly on the elderly, people of color, and immigrants who are some of the most frequent victims. This bill would improve the Department of Finance’s Notice of Recorded Document program which already requires notification to property owners any time a deed- or mortgage-related document is filed against their property. Under my bill, those notices would also have to include concrete action steps that a homeowner could take if they suspect that the filing was fraudulent, including information on who to contact for assistance, how to file a complaint, and how to report an alleged criminal violation.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


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