Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced plans Aug. 20 to extend the state’s ban on evictions for six more weeks as a way of protecting tenants who face ongoing hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
News reports said the governor would use emergency powers to extend the evictions ban until October, but that he hoped the state’s General Assembly would convene in September to extend emergency orders that he and state agencies have issued as part of the six-month coronavirus emergency first declared in March.
At the end of June, Governor Lamont extended provisions enacted by executive order (EO) to protect tenants and assist landlords negatively impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Executive Order 7DDD, signed by Governor Lamont June 29, allows tenants and landlords to apply a tenant’s security deposit to cover rent that the tenant has been unable to pay because of the pandemic.
The key elements of EO 7DDD are:
- Landlords and their legal representatives are prevented from delivering a notice to quit, serve, or return a summary process action—except for nonpayment of rent due on or prior to Feb. 29, 2020, or for serious nuisance as defined Connecticut General Statutes.
- Upon the written request of a tenant who has paid a security deposit in an amount that exceeds one month’s rent, and who provides written notice that he or she has become fully or partially unemployed or otherwise sustained a significant loss in revenue or increase in expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a landlord shall withdraw an amount of the security deposit equal to the amount in excess of one month’s rent and apply it toward the rent due in April, May, or June, July or August 2020. (Tenants may only request such action if they are not enrolled in the security deposit guarantee program established by the Commissioner of Housing under Connecticut General Statutes.)
- Landlords who apply the security deposit to rent may not demand that the security deposit be restored to an amount that exceeds one month’s rent earlier than the later of two dates—the end of the public health and civil preparedness emergency, including extensions or a renewal of the emergency, or the date the rental agreement is extended or renewed.
It’s important for tenants facing crisis situations to be aware of this measure, and to understand the state is officially encouraging distressed tenants to notify landlords of the difficulties they face.
Landlords, meanwhile, should also be aware the provisions of EO 7DDD are meant to help them as they face the difficulties created by having tenants who may be unable to make rent payments.
The Governor assured landlords that “nothing in this order shall relieve a tenant of liability for unpaid rent,” and the state advises landlords to do whatever they can to maintain residents in their current living situations.
In conjunction with implementing EO 7DDD on June 28, Governor Lamont announced that $33 million in state and federal resources will be directed to provide emergency assistance to renters, homeowners, and residential landlords impacted by the pandemic.
A press release detailed aspects of the plan:
- $10 million rental assistance program for Connecticut residents, which will provide payments to landlords on behalf of approved tenant applicants, with a priority on lower-income households who have been denied unemployment insurance. (On Aug. $21, the Governor announced he was doubling this funding to $20 million, bringing the total funding set aside to help tenants, landlords and homeowners to $43.3 million);
- $5 million for eviction prevention to help renters who were in the process of eviction before the declaration of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- $10 million to provide mortgage relief to homeowners who have suffered impacts from COVID-19 and whose mortgages are not federally insured, administered by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA);
- $4 million in rapid rehousing funds to help people pay costs like security deposits and initial rent to exit homelessness to housing, administered by the Department of Housing;
- $2.5 million rental assistance program for those who are ineligible for emergency assistance through the federal CARES Act, including those who are undocumented, administered by the Department of Housing;
- $1.8 million in funding for reentry and rehousing assistance for people exiting incarceration, administered by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness;
The Governor said EO 7DDD shall “remain in effect for the duration of the public health and civil preparedness emergency, unless earlier modified, extended or terminated.”
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