November 19, 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 12, 2020:
Since September 1, landlords have taken steps to move tenants out:
- Landlords have filed 795 new summary process (eviction) cases in court.
- 893 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.
- Landlords have requested 563 executions.
- Courts have issued 293 executions—Once a court issues an execution, the landlord can hire a marshal to remove the tenant and their belongings from the unit.
TRHAP is Open: Tenants and landlords can apply online at 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 2-1-1. Tenants can check on the status of their application www.chfa.org/homeowners/trhap-submission-status-check. Tenants who are denied assistance may appeal by sending an email to TRHAPAPPEALS@ct.gov.
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 cover all the back rent owed.
Courts Begin Holding Remote Trials: The housing courts are now holding remote trials, despite the technological barriers many tenants face in accessing the courts by video or audio.
Public Access to Remote Court Proceedings Remains Limited: Since remote housing court proceedings began in September, the Judicial Branch has required that members of the public seeking to observe a proceeding present themselves in person at the courthouse and indicate that they want to observe a particular matter. The clerk, and possibly the judge, will be present in the courtroom while parties and counsel participate remotely. The Judicial Branch is not providing public links to observe proceedings via Microsoft Teams because of concerns regarding cybersecurity. The Judicial Branch is working on a mechanism whereby all matters will be live-streamed, but it is still in the planning stages.
Judge asks for an offer of proof when landlord challenges a CDC declaration: In a case involving a tenant’s use of the CDC declaration to stop an eviction, a Maine judge found that the landlord had to make an “offer of proof” before the court would hold a hearing on the statements contained in a CDC declaration. In so deciding, the judge found that forcing a tenant to testify about the truth of the statements in the declaration without any proof that the statements were false, was inconsistent with the purpose of the CDC moratorium. The lawyer in that case relied on the Supreme Court case of Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154, 171, 98 S. Ct. 2674, 2684, 57 L. Ed. 2d 667 (1978) which held that “To mandate an evidentiary hearing, the challenger’s attack must be more than conclusory and must be supported by more than a mere desire to cross-examine. There must be allegations of deliberate falsehood or of reckless disregard for the truth, and those allegations must be accompanied by an offer of proof.”
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.
- 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 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 Dates: Courts are scheduling remote trials, 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.
- Responding to Eviction Papers: 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 people without legal status: The State’s rental assistance program for people without legal status is now open. To access this assistance, tenants should contact Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) at 1-203-612-5464 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More program information is available here.
211: Additional government assistance may be available through programs administered by local organizations and municipalities. Tenants may call 2-1-1 to confirm what rent and housing assistance is available in their area.
Delinquencies at 80% of the Great Recession peak: A new report from Black Knight shows that 90-day delinquencies in September were within 80% of their Great Recession peak. These delinquencies are particularly high among FHA borrowers, who are disproportionately Black and Latinx, and FHA delinquencies overall are particularly high in Fairfield and New Haven Counties.
Homeownership makes all the difference in urban areas: A recent report in CT Mirror, shows how homeownership can turn around deteriorating neighborhoods in urban areas. White residents in Connecticut are twice as likely to own a home than are people of color. Compared to other states, Connecticut has the second-largest gap for homeownership rates between its white and Latinx residents, the largest gap between mixed-race and white residents, and the 15th biggest gap between Black and white residents. Unfortunately, it is likely that racial inequalities in the housing market will increase after the pandemic ends.
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
New app to track COVID-19 cases: Connecticut has a new way for people to track the spread of the virus and to know if someone you have been in close contact with has tested positive for COVID-19. COVID Alert CT is a voluntary, anonymous, exposure-notification smartphone app. Users will get an alert if you were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Knowing about a potential exposure allows you to self-quarantine immediately, get tested, and reduce the potential exposure risk to your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and others.
Utilities must continue to offer payment plans to customers: Utilities must now extend the availability of the 24-month COVID-19 payment plans until February 9, 2021. Any customer can call their utility company to set up a payment arrangement. COVID-19 payment plans are:
Importantly, any customer enrolled in a COVID-19 Payment Plan who is current with their payment terms cannot be disconnected even after the shut-off moratoriums have concluded.
Filing exhibits in remote court proceedings: 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 parties may submit exhibits. Court notices sent to self-represented tenants with upcoming summary process (eviction) trials also fail to provide this information.
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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