Scott Phillips

On The Issues

Zombie PropertiesZombie Properties

A house becomes a “zombie property” when a bank files for foreclosure but does not actually take ownership. Many homeowners are either left unaware that they still hold title to the property or have moved out of the area, under the impression that they can no longer legally live there.

While properties sit in foreclosure limbo, it is unclear who actually owns them and is responsible for maintaining them. As a result, zombie properties often remain vacant and neglected for years. This can cause property values to go down. These houses also attract squatters, illegal drug activity and rodents.

The lender is currently under no legal obligation to foreclose on any property and take title, even if the homeowner has defaulted. The lender or bank can choose to walk away, charging off the debt instead of taking possession of the property.

I will work with legislators to legally bind lenders and banks to take ownership and responsibility for these properties. If they will not take back the properties, they will have to pay for their repairs and upkeep. This will reduce public safety concerns and protect property values in our communities.



The Sheriff’s Office conducts Sheriff Sales on foreclosed properties each month. After the sale has been conducted there are often excess proceeds that belong to the original owner. Under former Sheriff Trinidad Navarro, approximately $250,000 was returned to the rightful owners. Sometimes, people who thought they lost everything, still had proceeds due to them. Sheriff Navarro tracked down one woman in Montana who received over $30,000!

I pledge to restore this valuable program that Sheriff Navarro started.


Deputies are in our communities every weekday, often in the evenings. When a Sheriff’s Deputy comes to the door, they are usually serving subpoenas, foreclosure papers or other legal documents. This can sometimes create an adversarial confrontation. Sheriff’s deputies encounter citizens at some of their most trying times. When someone is about to be subject to a law suit, or losing their home to foreclosure, they are not of the mindset to handle these situations calmly.

Deputies are required to search foreclosed properties prior to the new owner taking possession. When a former homeowner is present and refuses to leave, our deputies face potentially dangerous situations. Our deputies should be trained for the proper and safe search of a property, and how to react if a dangerous encounter occurs.

As Sheriff, I will work with the New Castle County Police to coordinate proper training for identifying dangerous situations and developing safe procedures to ensure a peaceful outcome for the welfare of the deputies and the people we encounter. I will also establish training for our deputies to identify and diffuse incidents where citizens are facing situations that could result in mental trauma.

Professional training is essential to maintaining peaceful interactions between our deputies and our citizens.

Fiscal Responsibility

When elected, I would request that New Castle County’s Auditor conduct an audit of all accounts. In addition, I would also call upon the County’s Chief Financial Officer to have his staff review accounts and expense procedures currently being done in the Sheriff’s office.

for New Castle County Sheriff
On The Issues