November 12, 2020
The Connecticut Fair Housing Center makes a commitment to fight on because too many people depend on us and our ability to fight for them. Neither the outcome of an election nor the spread of a deadly virus alters the fact that discrimination continues, and people are on the brink of losing their homes. Your support is needed now more than ever as we must fight on. #wefighton
What happened since November 5, 2020:
Since September 1, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:
- Motions for Default have been filed—A Motion for Default is filed when a tenant misses a court deadline or a court event. If the Motion for Default is granted, the tenant automatically loses the case, and the landlord can ask the court to issue an execution.
TRHAP program reopens: The TRHAP program began accepting new applications on Monday, October 26. Since the program began in July, the State has received more than 10,000 calls for assistance. Of that number, more than 1,100 tenants have completed a full application and more than 800 landlords have been paid back rent. Some landlords are refusing to participate in the program because the $4,000 available under TRHAP does not pay all the back rent owed.
DOH recommends that tenants apply online at https://www.chfa.org/trhap/. However, the online form is still only available in English. Tenants who need assistance in Spanish and others who cannot apply online should call 1-860-785-3111 or 211.
Connecticut’s eviction crisis is not new: In an editorial on the website, Connecticut by the Numbers, the Center’s eviction prevention staff along with New Haven Legal Assistance Association’s Deputy Director point out that as of 2016, eviction rates in four Connecticut cities were among the highest in the nation. Those numbers have not gone down. Evictions disproportionately impact Black and Latinx households. Due to decades of discrimination in housing and employment, Black and Latinx households in Connecticut earn lower wages, possess less wealth, and are less likely to own their homes—67% of Latinx households and 61% of Black households rent, compared to only 24% of white households. These numbers will continue to increase due to the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 crisis on communities of color.
Landlord survey reveals few tenants filing CDC declarations: A survey in which more than 185 landlords participated, representing 26,600 apartments, reveals that landlords are receiving fewer than 1 CDC moratorium declaration per building. The CDC moratorium does not require that landlords or the court inform tenants of the CDC moratorium or the requirement that a tenant must complete a declaration in order to receive its protection.
Modifications to Connecticut eviction moratorium hurts 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 are 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 landlords from starting an eviction court case 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 and issuing Executions in cases that were filed before the Connecticut moratorium began, and 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.
- 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.
- : Courts are scheduling remote hearings and mediations. Tenants should receive a notice from the court when a court date is scheduled. Tenants can also confirm if they have an upcoming court date by looking up their case on the Judicial website. Once on their case page, they can also sign up for email alerts about their case. If a court date is scheduled, tenants must attend either by video or phone—even if they have already given their landlord a CDC declaration. Tenant should make sure to send their email address and phone number to the email address listed on the court notice so that the court can send them a link to join the meeting via video or phone.
- : Tenants should not ignore eviction papers, filing deadlines, or notices about remote court events. Courts have begun entering Default Judgments against tenants who fail to file forms on time or attend remote court events. Learn more about the eviction court process here.
Assistance for undocumented migrants: The State’s rental assistance program for undocumented migrants is now open. To access this assistance, people should contact Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) at 1-203-612-5464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
211: Additional government assistance may be available. Tenants may call 2-1-1 to confirm what rent and housing assistance is available in their area.
Data shows Connecticut has the 7th highest number of serious foreclosure delinquencies in the country: Data collected by CoreLogic reveals that every state had an increase in serious delinquencies, defined as 90 days or more past due including loans in foreclosure. Connecticut’s serious delinquency rate of 5.7% – about 1 of every 17 homeowners with a mortgage – ranks 7th in the country.
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 remote 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 number 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
Rising COVID-19 infections and hospitalization result in changes: Governor Lamont issued Executive Order 9L which extends all Executive Orders that are unexpired and current to February 9, 2021. This does not apply to the eviction moratorium scheduled to expire on December 31, 2020. The rollback reduces the number of people who can visit most businesses and other public spaces at one time.
Utilities must continue to offer payment plans to delinquent consumers: The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) did not extend the moratorium on all utility shutoffs. However, PURA did order utility companies to offer payment plans to all customers regardless of hardship. Customers may negotiate payment plans up to 24 months in length.
Connecticut churches ask the Governor to declare racism a public health crisis: On Thursday, November 12, 38 churches and more than 700 congregation members will meet with at least 17 lawmakers to ask for a legislative agenda that addresses racial inequities in housing, education, public safety and health or people of color in Connecticut and for Black residents in particular.
Filing exhibits in remote hearings and trials: The Judicial Branch has not provided clear guidance on how self-represented parties can submit exhibits. The Judicial Branch has announced that, starting on November 16, 2020, attorneys without an exemption from electronic services must submit all exhibit documents in Civil and Family matters electronically in PDF format via the Judicial E-Services site. The notice states that electronic submission of exhibits will be optional for self-represented parties, but it does not provide instructions for how else self-represented may submit exhibits.
We have heard of the following court access problems:
- 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 email@example.com.
Resources for tenants and homeowners:
- here for more information on the Connecticut and federal CDC moratoriums.
- here to understand current rights for homeowners in Spanish and English.
- here to understand how fair housing can protect you during the COVID-19 crisis. (Our guidance is now available in 11 languages.)
- The Rent Recalculation Request tool can be accessed here in Spanish and English.
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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