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CT General Assembly Considers Legislation to Aid Renters

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Thursday, March 16, 2023   

Connecticut's General Assembly is considering legislation to establish fair and equitable housing opportunities.

Senate Bill 4 aims to establish a winter eviction moratorium, making it illegal to evict anyone from December through March.

Last year saw more than 21,000 evictions in the state, according to the Connecticut Fair Housing Coalition. Record high inflation has driven rent increases, although renters' advocates say some landlords are taking advantage of the situation.

Quanishe Flippen, community organizer for the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, said the bill would also create a complaint form for tenants to fill out if they think landlords are violating the law.

"Apartments that haven't been updated or apartments that have issues, or there may be a violation or something like that; these landlords -- sometimes these slumlords -- don't go and fix these issues," Flippen asserted. "But now, they'll be held accountable, because if we have that portal where we can mention to someone, and they can hold them accountable, then I'm sure that'll help these issues get fixed."

The bill got mixed support at a public hearing, with some residents and property owners opposing it. Some feel the bill protects tenants but not landlords, while others feel it limits property owners' control, especially in terms of evictions. The bill has been filed with the Legislative Commissioners' Office.

A renter herself, Flippen noted it is not easy to get an apartment in Connecticut, with prospective renters having to, as she puts it, "jump through burning hoops." She added some landlords ask for too much money up front, which can deter people from signing a lease.

"It's almost insane to me, because they're basically expecting people to make at least three times the rent, and a lot of times these apartments are at least $1,500 to $1,700," Flippen pointed out. "The average person in Connecticut doesn't make that much."

The most recent Census Bureau figure for per capita income is almost $48,000. But the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates housing should cost no more than one-third of a person's income.

With studio apartments in some areas renting for as much as $1,400, a person would exceed HUD's housing-cost estimate by several hundred dollars.


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