Senator Lea Webb Applauds Deed Theft Protections Becoming Law in a Major Win for Homeowners

Lea Webb

November 29, 2023

Senator Lea Webb Applauds Deed Theft Protections Becoming Law in a Major Win for Homeowners

(Southern Tier, New York) Senator Lea Webb applauds anti-deed theft legislation, championed by the Senate Democratic Majority, being signed by Governor Hochul and becoming law. This measure is a significant win for current and prospective homeowners by empowering the Attorney General’s office to investigate and litigate “deed theft.” Deed theft occurs when someone steals the title to someone else's home without their knowledge or approval either through forgery (when the thief fakes a signature on a deed and files it with the county clerk), or fraudulently (when a homeowner unwittingly signs the deed over to a scammer). Many older and low income New Yorkers have been the target of deed theft for years, resulting in the loss of hard earned property. This legislation is a key tool in law enforcement’s belt against these crimes. 

Senator Lea Webb said, “For many, the goal of someday owning a home is a point of great pride, security, and community investment. It’s critical that we do everything we can to help people remain in their homes once they buy them, and protect owners from bad actors looking to exploit their dreams. I was proud to vote for Senator Kavanagh’s bill, S6577, and applaud the governor signing it into law as a major win for New York homeowners.”

Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York Aid Advocates said, “Finding and keeping safe, affordable housing has become increasingly challenging for our clients during the past few years.  We have seen a rise in homeowners who were tricked into signing over titles for small sums of money to make improvements or pay for taxes. Those homeowners often learn that they no longer have title to the property in a summary eviction proceeding, where courts are reluctant to slow down the process to deal with title issues.  The stay provisions will be invaluable in keeping people housed while transfers are being investigated.”

This legislation, S.6577 (Senator Kavanagh)/A.6656 (Assemblymember Weinstein), establishes several new measures to enhance deed theft protections for New Yorkers. It empowers the Attorney General, local District Attorneys, and other law enforcement investigating deed theft to move to stay any legal proceeding where possession or title to a property is at issue – such as foreclosures, evictions, and ownership disputes – and requires courts to grant the stay if investigations are ongoing or the government has initiated civil or criminal actions. Upon finding probable cause or filing criminal charges, the Attorney General and District Attorneys now may file a notice of pendency as a "red flag" to make buyers and lenders aware of title issues to help stop further transactions from happening. 

New Yorkers are encouraged to report deed theft and other scams to the Attorney General’s office by calling 800-771-7755 or filing a complaint here.


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