Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. Section 8 of chapter 58 of the General Laws, as most recently amended by section 37 of chapter 514 of the acts of 1978, is hereby further amended by adding the following two paragraphs:-
The commissioner shall make, and from time to time revise, such rules and regulations necessary for establishing an expedited procedure for denying or granting authority to abate taxes, assessments, rates, charges, costs or interest under this section for abandoned residential property, as defined in section 1 of chapter 60, of six units or less that are proposed to be rehabilitated into six units or less, and further, no real estate shall be eligible for this expedited process on which no residential structure of any kind now stands or no portion of a residential structure remains above ground level. Said rules and regulations for said expedited procedure shall include, but not be limited to, the following: (1) an informal hearing on an abatement petition, which petition shall be required to be submitted together with information including rehabilitation plans for the property and a statement as to how such abatement will benefit the municipality; (2) an opportunity for a petitioner to request a rehearing if an application is denied; (3) limitation of 15 units irrespective of the number of parcels in which they are contained except as hereinafter provided. In determining the said number of units, the commissioner shall authorize that number of units which were the number of legal units last appearing on the certificate of occupancy for said parcel or parcels. The commissioner shall require said limitation of only fifteen units to be rehabilitated per year by the same developer, including all parcels in which said developer has a beneficial or equitable interest. Said limitation, however, shall not apply to a community development corporation as set forth in section one of chapter forty F or any other nonprofit business entity acting as a developer.
Upon the written request of the chief executive officer and the assessors or the board or officer responsible for assessing of a city or town, the commissioner may from time to time for two year periods authorize such assessors or board or officers to grant abatements for abandoned residential property of six units or less that are proposed to be rehabilitated into six units or less; provided, that the commissioner has approved, in writing, the plan and procedures pursuant to which such assessors or board or officer shall grant or deny the abatement petition; provided, further that prior to granting an abatement the assessors or board or officer shall certify, in writing, under pains and penalties of perjury that such procedures have been followed; and provided further that the commissioner shall conduct yearly post audit of such abatements by assessors or boards or officers as he deems necessary to ensure that any authority granted under this paragraph has been properly exercised, and shall withdraw any such grant of authority upon his written finding that the authority has been improperly exercised. The commissioner, may make, and from time to time revise, such reasonable rules and regulations that are consistent with provisions of the preceding paragraph as he deems necessary to carry out the provisions of this paragraph.
SECTION 2. Section 65 of chapter 60 of the General Laws, as most recently amended by chapter 345 of the acts of 1978, is hereby amended by striking out the last sentence and inserting in place thereof the following sentence:- The land court in each petition filed by a city or town may, upon motion, order the payment of legal fees to a city or town, which amount shall be added to the tax title account of the land to which the right of redemption is being foreclosed; provided, however, that such legal fees shall not exceed five hundred dollars; in no event shall the legal fees awarded exceed the actual costs incurred and the judge shall consider the taxpayer's ability to pay said fees in any such fee award.
SECTION 3. Section 69A of chapter 60 of the General Laws, inserted by section 2 of chapter 226 of the acts of 1945, is hereby amended by adding the following sentence:- If said foreclosure petition was filed for an unoccupied or abandoned building as set forth in sections one and eighty-one A, no petition to vacate a decree of foreclosure entered under section sixty-nine and no proceedings at law or equity for reversing or modifying such a decree shall be commenced by any person other than the petitioner except within ninety calendar days after the final entry of the decree, or within one year of the final entry of the decree, if the decree was entered prior to the effective date of this section. For any decree relating to a property which stands in the name of a deceased person or person under guardianship or conservatorship, a petition may be maintained for reversal or modification of such decree up to one year from the date of decree.