A group of investors are questioning the legality of Gloucester County's vacant property registration program.

Two entities that purchase liens on tax delinquent properties are suing four towns and the company that administers the registry.

Two years ago, the county partnered with Community Champions Corp. to establish a database of abandoned and vacant properties in an effort to hold owners of properties -- or mortgage holders -- accountable for upkeep of those sites. Many communities have seen vacant homes fall into disrepair in the wake of the nation's mortgage foreclosure crisis.

The plaintiffs, operating under the names Empire TF4 Jersey Holdings, LLC, Empire TF6 New Jersey Holdings, LLC, and Empire TF5 Jersey Holdings, all of the same New York City address, and Chickadee Investments, in Brick, argue that the program is unconstitutional, illegally targets owners working to get properties back on the tax rolls and charges unreasonable fees.

These investors buy municipal tax sale certificates, which are the liens on tax delinquent properties. These certificates can earn as much as 18 percent interest. When holders of these certificates foreclose on a property in order to take ownership, towns with vacant property registries have required them to pay registration fees so that they can sell the properties to a new owner, the plaintiffs state.

From Gloucester County Read the full article here.

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