ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
October 22, 2020
What happened since October 15, 2020:
Modifications to Connecticut eviction moratorium hurt tenants: On October 20, Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9H, which changes the eviction moratorium issued just a few weeks ago. Instead of ensuring that the eviction moratorium covers most tenants, the new order places limits on the reach of the eviction moratorium at a time when the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing to levels not seen since early in the pandemic. There is a high risk that tenants and landlords will be confused about the reach of existing protections, and that some landlords will resort to intimidation to get tenants out.
- What Executive Order 9H does:
- Extends the Connecticut eviction moratorium to December 31, 2020 for some tenants;
- Requires landlords to serve a CDC declaration in both English and Spanish with any Notice to Quit permitted by E.O. 9H, except Notices to Quit for serious nuisance;
- Requires that any Notice to Quit or Complaint for a rental arrearage equal to or greater than six months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020 state the amount of the rent arrearage, the months for which rent was unpaid, and the amount unpaid for each of those months;
- Requires that any Notice to Quit for rent due on or before February 29, 2020 specify and recite the period of nonpayment; and
- Requires that any Notice to Quit based upon the bona fide intention by the landlord to use the unit for the landlord’s principal residence state that reason and specify the lease’s expiration date.
- What Executive Order 9H does NOT do:
- It does not prohibit the service of a Notice to Quit or Summons and Complaint if the tenant a) owes rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; b) owes six or more months’ worth of rent that was due on or after March 1, 2020; c) has created a serious nuisance; or d) has a lease that expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence;
- It does not stop the courts from holding court proceedings, entering judgments, and issuing executions in cases that were filed before the Connecticut moratorium began, or in cases that are not covered by the Connecticut moratorium.
What should tenants do?
Tenants may not be covered by the Connecticut moratorium for various reasons, including that (1) their landlord filed an eviction case before the Connecticut moratorium began on April 10, 2020; (2) they owe rent that was due on or before February 29, 2020; (3) they owe six or more months’ worth of rent due on or after March 1, 2020; or (4) their lease has expired and the landlord has a bona fide intention to use the unit as the landlord’s primary residence.
- CDC Moratorium: Tenants not covered by the Connecticut moratorium may still qualify for the federal CDC moratorium if they cannot pay their full rent or other housing payments because someone in their household lost income or has very expensive out-of-pocket medical bills. However, the CDC moratorium’s protection is not automatic. Tenants should begin by carefully reading the requirements a tenant must meet to qualify for the CDC moratorium. If every person over 18 in the household meets the requirements, then each of those people should fill out a CDC declaration and give each declaration to the landlord. Information about the declaration and how to create one is also available in Spanish. In addition, there are online forms here and here that can generate the CDC declaration. A summary of both the Connecticut and CDC moratoriums is available here.
- Remote Court Proceedings: Courts are scheduling remote hearings and mediations. If a tenant receives notice of a remote hearing or mediation, the tenant must attend either by video or phone, even if they have already given their landlord a CDC declaration. The tenant should make sure to send their email address and phone number to the email address listed on the notice so that the court can send them the meeting invitation.
- Responding to Eviction Papers: Tenants should not ignore any eviction papers they receive. It a tenant receives a Summons and Complaint, the tenant should follow the instructions on the Summons for completing and filing their Appearance and Answer forms with the court within 2 business days of the Return Date. The suspension of the deadline to file Appearance and Answer forms has been lifted, and courts have begun entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file these forms on time. Learn more about the eviction court process here.
Landlords have filed motions for default in 203 cases since September 14: In addition, motions for default were pending in more than 2,000 cases. “Pending” means no action has been taken on the motion.
Landlords have requested more than 165 executions since September 1: The executions requested beginning on September 1 are in addition to the 725 requests filed since March 1 which are still awaiting hearing. If an execution has been requested by a landlord in a case involving nonpayment, the tenants are supposed to receive notice from court staff which provides instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing about the execution and applicability of the CDC moratorium either by video or phone. Executions in other types of cases are being signed without providing tenants with the opportunity for a hearing and without verifying if the landlord received a CDC declaration from the tenant.
Courts have issued 147 executions in summary process cases since September 1, 2020: Issuance of an execution means that the landlord is permitted to have a marshal physically remove a tenant and their belongings from their home.
TRHAP program changes: The TRHAP program is expected to begin accepting new applications on Monday, October 26. DOH recommends that tenants apply online at https://portal.ct.gov/DOH/DOH/Programs/TRHAP, although the call center will also be available to take applications at 1-860-785-3111.
Assistance for people without legal status: The State’s rental assistance program for people without legal status is now open. To access this assistance, people should contact Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) at 1-203-612-5464 or email@example.com.
211: Tenants may call 211 to confirm what rent and housing assistance is available in their area.
CT has sixth highest delinquency rate in the country: A new report from CoreLogic shows that Connecticut has the 6th highest delinquency rate in the country with New York and New Jersey ranking first and second.
Affidavit required for foreclosure filings: On September 24, the Judicial Branch issued a Standing Order that prohibits any foreclosure action from being filed or moving forward unless the bank or mortgage company files an affidavit stating that the loan is not a federally backed mortgage, is vacant, or is not in forbearance. If the affidavit is not filed with the Court, then the case may be dismissed.
Judicial Branch is scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases: Since the week of September 14, the Judicial Branch has been scheduling hearings in foreclosure cases where an execution has been requested, a hearing or status conference if necessary, and, in some circumstances, where the foreclosure has not proceeded as quickly as the court would like. If a hearing has been scheduled, the homeowner is supposed to receive notice from court staff providing instructions on how to participate in a remote hearing either by video or phone.
What should homeowners do?
Foreclosure advice: The Center is holding Foreclosure Advice Virtual Sessions. Homeowners facing foreclosure can sign up for advice sessions over video or phone, and get some individualized questions answered in a way that they could at our in-person clinics or through the Judicial Branch’s Volunteer Attorney Program that we regularly staff during non-pandemic times. The program has been used by dozens of homeowners from across the state since it began this summer. Homeowners can sign up, answer a few short questions, and be set up with an appointment. These Sessions are in addition to the considerable amount of videos and materials available at www.ctfairhousing.org.
Apply for T-MAP online: The number of successful applications for the State’s TMAP program remains low. TMAP now has an on-line application in English. It has not yet been translated into Spanish. To apply for assistance by telephone, call 1-860-785-3111. For more information about the program, click here
We have heard the following problems with remote hearings and court access:
- Tenants do not know how to install the “Teams” app used for remote hearings;
- Tenants do not have enough space on their phones to download the Teams app;
- Tenants could not connect with the court through the Teams app;
- Downloading the Teams app takes a very long time, and often the program closes before the full download occurs;
- Tenants who are unable to use the Teams app can only participate in the hearing by phone;
- Tenants who are on the telephone are not able to see what is happening and do not know what to do once they connect;
- Tenants who do not have access to a phone or computer are not given an in-person option, so they are unable to attend.
- Tenants are given only 5 days’ notice of a hearing;
- Some tenants are not receiving mail in a timely manner, so they only receive notice of the hearing after they’ve already missed it;
- Tenants receive notice of the remote hearing, but the notice does not include the date and time of the hearing;
- Hearing notices are not translated for people with LEP;
- Hearing notices tell tenants to call the clerk’s office to receive information about how to participate in a remote hearing, but when tenants call the clerk’s office they hear a recording directing them to call another phone number that is not always answered;
- Tenants who receive notice of the hearing do not understand that they must give the court their email address to receive access to the hearing;
- Hearing notice emails that include the phrase “do not delete” are deleted once the hearing is accepted;
- Judges are not asking court personnel if tenants were ever contacted by the Court regarding notice of the hearing;
- Judges are not determining if the landlord has received a CDC declaration;
- Mediators are not determining if the landlord has received a CDC declaration;
- Tenants who have given their landlord a CDC declaration are challenged by landlords who say the declaration is not true;
- When an attorney for the landlord did not show up, the Court called him and allowed him to join the remote hearing late. No calls made to tenants when they do not appear;
- Some marshals refuse to let lawyers and tenants into courthouses to file documents;
- Some courts fail to provide a means for lawyers and the public to observe hearings.
Massachusetts spends $171 million to prevent evictions: Massachusetts will spend more than $171 million to support new and expanded housing stability programs during the remainder of 2020. The State has announced it will spend $100 million on an emergency rental assistance program, $12.3 million to provide access to legal services, and $50 million for post-eviction rapid rehousing.
Utility moratorium will end on October 31: Any residential customer having trouble paying their utility bills should contact their utility company and ask whether they are eligible to be “coded hardship.” If the customer is coded hardship, the utility company will not be able to shut off their utilities during the winter months. Special financial assistance programs are available to hardship customers. For more information, see this Operation Fuel website. Second, if a customer is ineligible for hardship status, they should ask to be placed on a COVID-19 Payment Plan. Enrollment for the COVID-19 Payment Program for residential customers is open until November 1, 2020.
- Public Official Outreach: Center staff continue to participate in Facebook Live, community Zoom meetings, and tele-townhalls with legislative officials. If you would like our assistance reaching your constituency, please contact our outreach coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Staff continue to hold fair housing trainings and COVID-19 housing resource workshops via Zoom with social service agencies, direct service providers, and invested stakeholders. If your agency would find a short resource webinar or fair housing training helpful during this crisis please contact Rashida Rattray, the Center’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, at email@example.com
Resources for tenants and homeowners:
- Click here for more information on the Connecticut and federal CDC moratoriums.
- Click here to understand current rights for homeowners in Spanish and English.
- Click here to understand how fair housing can protect you during the COVID-19 crisis. (Our guidance is now available in 11 languages.)
- Need to have your subsidized rent recalculated due to income loss? The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
- To sign up for our weekly update fill out the form
More COVID-19 resources can be found on our website here.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAIR HOUSING RIGHTS IN ENGLISH, SPANISH, MANDARIN, VIETNAMESE, FARSI, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, KREYOL, ARABIC, KHMER, AND TAGALOG, CLICK HERE.
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