A new initiative designed to hold owners of vacant and abandoned zombie properties to a higher standard is now in effect in Erie County.

The county is working with the Western New York Law Center on the 'Good Neighbor Project,' which will make sure vacant and abandoned properties owned by out-of-town banks or investors are held to the same standards as neighbors when it comes to maintaining their properties.

"A technical zombie would just mean that is vacant," Kate Lockhart, director at the WNY Law Center, said. "The homeowner is defaulted on the mortgage and it can be anywhere in the foreclosure process from recently defaulted to years in default."

Ocwen Financial Group of New Jersey is the first member of this initiative.

The group says it’s committed to keeping people in their homes when possible, while also acting as good neighbors.

Ocwen has already contacted the law center about properties it currently services to make sure they are following state law.