Emergency Provisions for Rent and Eviction
On March 15, 2021, Governor Lamont announced UniteCT, a new state program to provide financial assistance to approved Connecticut households financially impacted by the pandemic. The program will provide up to $10,000 in rental assistance to landlords on behalf of qualified tenants. Both tenants and landlords can apply, and applicants can track the progress online. To learn more and apply for assistance, please visit our UniteCT page.
Governor Lamont has signed Executive Order No. 12D stating that, beginning June 30, 2021 landlords are required to apply for the UniteCT rental assistance program before delivering an eviction notice to tenants for overdue rent. The Executive Order also states that:
- Landlords must send tenants eviction notices for nonpayment of rent, for lapse of time, or whose right to occupy a unit has terminated at least 30-days’ notice prior to beginning an eviction
- Tenants should be given an opportunity to continue the lease with all terms intact, by paying outstanding rent within the 30-day period.
- Eviction notices must be delivered along with certain information about the state’s UniteCT program and the federal eviction moratorium in both English and Spanish
- A stay in eviction proceedings of up to 30 days is permitted if the landlord or the tenant applies to the UniteCT program.
On June 30, 2020, Governor Lamont extended protections for residential renters affected by COVID-19 under Executive Order 7DDD.
That eviction moratorium on residential evictions was extended to June 30, 2021 for all renters who were current with rent payments as of February 29, 2020.
A subsequent order (see above) was issued regarding transition of the eviction moratorium after June 30, 2021.
However, landlords with federally-backed mortgages (which make up approximately 70% of U.S. mortgages) cannot serve a notice to quit for nonpayment of rent until July 25 or commence an eviction proceeding until 30 days after serving a notice to quit.
The court system is establishing its own rules for prioritizing cases in the interest of social distancing and public health.
Executive order 7DDD also extends the opportunity provided under Executive Order 7X for tenants to apply additional security deposit to rent upon request for rent due in April, May, June, July or August 2020.
You can apply the balance of any security deposit worth more than one month’s rent, including any interest that has accrued on your initial deposit.
Together with the provisions of 7DDD, the Governor announced new resources to assist tenants, homeowners, and residential property owners.
Please visit the official guidance for more details.
NOTE for RENTERS:
Generally, a landlord may not initiate an eviction action or serve a Notice to Quit until August 22, 2020 for any tenant who was current with regard to rental payments as of February 29, 2020. However, a landlord may serve a notice to quit and initiate an eviction action in court at any time prior to August 22, 2020 on the grounds of serious nuisance.
Serious nuisance is defined as:
“(A) inflicting bodily harm upon another tenant or the landlord or threatening to inflict such harm with the present ability to effect the harm and under circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to believe that such threat will be carried out,
(B) substantial and willful destruction of part of the dwelling unit or premises,
(C) conduct which presents an immediate and serious danger to the safety of other tenants or the landlord, or
(D) using the premises or allowing the premises to be used for prostitution or the illegal sale of drugs or, in the case of a housing authority, using any area within fifteen hundred feet of any housing authority property in which the tenant resides for the illegal sale of drugs.”
Beyond the Extension
A tenant should make every effort to pay as much rent as possible during the ongoing public health and civil preparedness emergency since tenants remain ultimately responsible for the full payment of rent for all months, even those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Late payment or nonpayment of any portion of rent should be a last resort where unavoidable. A tenant should be in communication with his or her landlord and should work with his or her landlord to establish a payment plan or arrangement to repay all late or unpaid rent.
Special Considerations Pre-Executive Order
Landlords can impose or continue imposing late fees, interest, or penalties on rent due in or before March, 2020. However, if they have not already served a notice to quit or initiated an eviction action in court, they will not be able to do so, except in cases of serious nuisance, until July 1, 2020.
Prior to April 10, 2020, nothing prohibited a landlord from serving a notice to quit or initiating an eviction action, and the action will remain active on the court’s docket.
If the action relates to nonpayment of rent for April, 2020, the terms of Executive Order 7X are applicable as they relate to the April, 2020 rent.
On June 9, the state of Connecticut Superior Court ordered an immediate stay of the service of all issued executions on evictions and ejectments through August 1, 2020. As a result, no eviction action will proceed through the judicial process until such time as the closures and suspensions are lifted, at which time the action will proceed.
Rules for Security Deposits
You are not allowed to use part of your Security Deposit Guarantee to pay rent from any part of April through August, 2020. The security deposit provision of Executive Order No. 7X does not apply to the Department of Housing’s Security Deposit Guarantee Program.
Also note that your full security deposit cannot still be used as a security deposit if it is applied to the payment of rent.
Only money from a security deposit that is more than one month’s rent can be used by the landlord for rent. The landlord will continue to hold a one-month security deposit. The extra security deposit that can be applied to the payment of rent due for any part of the time period from April through August is no longer considered part of the tenant’s security deposit and cannot be used as a security deposit for any purpose.
Your landlord can require you to add more money to your security deposit at a later date.
Executive Order No. 7X prohibits a landlord from demanding that the portion of a security deposit used in accordance with the Executive Order be restored to an amount greater than one month’s rent until the end of the public health emergency or the date the rental agreement is extended or renewed, whichever comes later.
After the later of those two dates, however, a landlord may require that a tenant under sixty-two years of age restore the amount of the security deposit held to an amount up to two months’ rent as set forth in the lease.
End of Lease
A landlord is not required to extend a lease that is expiring during the public health emergency. If the tenant and landlord agree, the lease may be converted to a month to month lease, but the landlord cannot be compelled to extend the lease.
If the tenant and landlord cannot agree to any extension of the lease, under ordinary circumstances the landlord could initiate an eviction action to remove the tenant. As set forth above, however, Executive Order No. 7DDD prohibits a landlord from serving a notice to quit or initiating an eviction action based on the expiration of the lease prior to August 22, 2020.
On or after August 22, 2020 however, the landlord may serve a notice to quit and initiate an eviction action to remove a tenant whose lease has expired.
Change of Lease Terms
A landlord may opt to change the terms of a lease when a lease term ends and a renewal or new lease is necessary.
A tenant is advised to attempt to work with the landlord to agree to terms of, at a minimum, a short-term lease for the duration of this public health emergency.
If the landlord and tenant cannot agree to new terms, the landlord may decide not to renew the lease, resulting in the situation set forth above, where a lease expires during the public health emergency.
If you believe that the rent increase proposed by your landlord is not fair, you may contact your town or city’s Fair Rent Commission, if your municipality has one. More information about Fair Rent Commissions in Connecticut can be found at https://uwc.211ct.org/fair-rent-commissions-connecticut.
Early Departure from Rental
During the public health emergency, a tenant is required to continue to follow all the terms of his or her lease. Depending upon the terms of the lease, moving out of the unit may constitute a violation of the rental agreement, which remains in effect even if the tenant is not living in the unit unless the landlord agrees to terminate the lease.
A tenant who is not residing in the unit during the public health emergency is still required to continue to pay rent under the terms of the lease or risk being subject to the penalties for nonpayment of rent under the terms of the lease and relevant state law.
Federal Stimulus Funds and Rent
A tenant is not required to use federal stimulus money to pay rent. The stimulus money is designed, however, to assist individuals in paying the basic costs of living during this public health emergency, including housing expenses.
Regardless of the source of funds used, a tenant is advised to make every effort to pay all rent due during the emergency since, as set forth above, tenants are responsible for the payment of their rent during this time and may be subject to penalty or eviction at a later date for a failure to pay.
In regards to "covered properties" under the Federal CARES Act:
As with any other property, every tenant who has the ability to pay their rent should do so.
Tenants in “Covered properties” may have additional opportunities for relief in the form of rent recalculation or interim recertification and a recalculation of tenant’s potion of the rent. Those individuals should contact the appropriate contact at the property management or owner and their assigned contact or caseworker.
In regards to Section 8, low income public housing, or any other housing situation where the State or Federal government is subsidizing a portion of the rent:
If you are a tenant in a rent subsidized property, you are still responsible for paying your full portion of your rent. If your income has decreased for any reason, you should communicate with your landlord and your assigned contact/caseworker. You may be able to have your portion of the rent recalculated as a result of your decrease in income to decrease the portion of rent you are responsible for paying.
ORIGINAL ORDER ON RENT and EVICTION:
On April 10, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7X which included, among other things, certain protections for residential renters impacted by COVID-19.
While tenants remain responsible for the payment of rent for all months during the emergency, Executive Order No 7X established certain temporary relief measures to assist residential tenants during the public health and civil preparedness emergency declared by Governor Lamont, as set forth below:
- A landlord may not serve a notice to quit requiring a tenant to vacate a unit or initiate an eviction action in court, other than for serious nuisance, until July 1, 2020.
Tenants are provided an automatic two-month grace period for the payment of rent due for April, 2020. That means rent due on April 1, which usually would have been paid by April 10, must now be paid by June 1. No action may be taken against a tenant for the late payment of rent for April 2020, including the service of a notice to quit, initiation of an eviction action, late fees or penalties, or reporting to a credit bureau or screening service, as long as rent is paid within two months of the date on which it is due.
o Note that tenants who are financially able to do so are advised to pay their scheduled rent on time.
o Tenants taking advantage of the April grace period should communicate with their landlord.
o The intention of the grace period is to allow for the delay in receiving unemployment benefits.
o Tenants who cannot pay their April rent in full by June 1 should communicate with their landlord and should work with their landlord to establish a payment plan or arrangement to repay all late or unpaid rent. Late payment or nonpayment of any portion of rent should be a last resort where unavoidable.
- A 60-day extension for the payment of rent due for May, 2020 is available upon written request- where a tenant notifies his or her landlord in writing that some or all of the rent due for May, 2020 will be delayed because he or she has become fully or partially unemployed or has had a significant increase in expenses or decrease in revenue specifically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- June rent is due in June as usual
- If a tenant has paid a security deposit of more than one month’s rent, a landlord may, upon tenant’s request, apply the amount of the security deposit that exceeds one month’s rent to pay a portion of the rent due for April, May, or June, 2020. A tenant must notify his or her landlord in writing that he or she has become fully or partially unemployed or has had a significant increase in expenses or decrease in revenue specifically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
o Note that this is only an option for tenants whose landlord is holding MORE than one month’s rent as a security deposit.
o Landlords can require tenants to replenish their security deposit when they renew their lease or when the public emergency is over