The Land Bank


The Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation (BENLIC) is a government-created, not-for-profit corporation, formed in 2012 after the passage of the 2011 Land Bank Act in Albany. BENLIC is joined by 20 other land banks operating throughout the State of New York.
BENLIC exists to work with all Erie County municipalities to strategically acquire tax-delinquent and abandoned property for future use. Typically, BENLIC acquires residential properties, but is not limited to the size and scope of any particular property type.

While all land banks are able to purchase, or accept donations of property, BENLIC acquires the majority of its inventory at each annual Erie County, City of Buffalo, City of Lackawanna, and City of Tonawanda tax foreclosure auctions.

BENLIC, through state enabled legislation, has the unique ability to acquire property at auction using a Priority Bid or “Super Bid”. Simply put, BENLIC can place a bid in the amount of back-taxes a property owes to automatically win it at auction. This ensures problem properties are dealt with effectively.

BENLIC works to ensure all properties are brought to a code compliant, and livable condition after acquisition. This is done either through construction rehab before a home is brought to market, or through the use of their Note & Mortgage Program.* If a property is determined to be in such a state of disrepair that a rehab is unfeasible, BENLIC may elect to demolish it. All homes sold by BENLIC are priced at fair market value.

Vacant lots are either sold to adjacent landowners or, if BENLIC determines it feasible, are built on for new housing construction.

Tax-delinquent, vacant, and abandoned properties are not just found in one town or city. They are scattered throughout Erie County. BENLIC was created as a unique tool to combat the negative effects caused by deteriorating, vacant, and abandoned properties at a scale appropriate for our entire county.

The Erie County Department of Real Property Tax Services estimates that over 73,000 properties currently have tax liens. Within this number are thousands of abandoned residential homes, commercial buildings, and vacant lots that continue to drag-down nearby property values, pose health risks, and harm our local quality of life across Erie County.

To date, BENLIC has received the majority of its funding from the NYS Office of the Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, through his offices’ Land Bank Community Revitalization Initiative. These funds have been secured through settlements with the nation’s largest banks over misconduct that contributed to the 2008 Housing Crisis.

As a nonprofit-corporation, all proceeds from property sales are shared between BENLIC and the local municipality where a property is situated. These proceeds repay public municipal costs, and are circulated back into BENLIC operations so we can continue to fund positive neighborhood change. **

* You can view homes for sale on our Properties webpage and read more on our Note & Mortgage Program
** Please see our adopted Proceeds Distribution Policy in our Resources section