ADDRESSING CLIENTS’ NEEDS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Despite increases in the COVID positivity rate and hospitalizations, and despite the continuation of Executive 12D, monthly eviction cases are climbing and have already exceeded the total number of filings in 2020. The number of new cases continues to climb even as landlords are being paid for rent accrued during the pandemic.

Tenants report that landlords are collecting funds from UniteCT and then filing new evictions because leases have expired – a basis called “lapse of time.” Court records show that filings for lapse of time have increased by 85% in 2021 compared to the same time period in 2019. This suggests that the federal rental assistance is not meeting its purpose of keeping vulnerable tenants in their homes; instead landlords are being compensated but tenants are still forced to move. As can be seen below, the effects of the pandemic continue to disproportionately harm people of color.

The Center will be ending its pandemic updates on Friday, December 3, 2021 with a look back at the more than 100 updates we sent during this time. Thank you for your attention to the issues we have raised. We may resume these updates if the need arises.

Eviction and foreclosure by the numbers

2021 eviction filings exceed number filed in 2020—From January 1 to December 31, 2020, landlords filed a total of 6,430 summary process eviction cases. Through October 27, 2021, landlords have filed 7,716. In addition, Connecticut courts have already issued more executions in 2021 (2,969) than in all of 2020 (2,193). Once an execution is issued, a marshal can serve the tenant with a notice that they must move out within 24 hours.

Racial and ethnic disparities continue: According to the latest data from the Household Pulse Survey, 57% of Latinx tenants and 41% of Black tenants have little or no confidence in their ability to pay November’s rent compared to 15% of white tenants. More than 50,591 tenants report being behind on the rent. The Household Pulse Survey has now ended.

Similar disparities exist for homeowners. In Connecticut, 61,685 households are not caught up on their mortgage payments. Of those, 8.6% are Black, 11.7% are mixed race, and 4.2% are Latinx compared to 5.4% of white homeowners.

Evictions

Executive Order 12D, which will expire on February 15, 2022, requires landlords to give tenants a 30-day notice before filing an eviction case in court. In addition, the Executive Order includes the following provisions:

  • Landlords must complete an application for the State’s UniteCT rental assistance program prior to delivering a notice to quit for nonpayment of rent. The UniteCT case number must be included on the Notice to Quit;
  • Landlords must give tenants a 30-day Notice to Quit if they intend to evict for nonpayment of rent, for lapse of time, or because the right to occupy a unit has terminated;
  • All Notices to Quit given for any reason must be delivered with a flyer about the State’s UniteCT program in both English and Spanish;
  • Tenants have an opportunity to continue all terms of their rental agreement by paying outstanding rent within the 30-day Notice to Quit period;
  • If during any summary process (eviction) case, a UniteCT application is made, all proceedings in the summary process case must be stopped for 30 days or until a decision is made on the UniteCT application, whichever is earlier. If the UniteCT application is approved, the summary process case must be stopped until the UniteCT payment is made, and the summary process action is withdrawn or dismissed. 

Visit www.CTFairHousing.org/eviction for more information on what steps tenants can take to respond to eviction papers and access EO 12D’s protections.

Update on UniteCT

  • UniteCT has been working with Eversource and United Illuminating to pay the electric arrearages for tenants who have been approved for assistance. UniteCT is in negotiations with some of the smaller electric companies to make similar payments. These are one-time payments and cannot be used for future electrical bills. UniteCT does not pay for gas utilities.
  • Once an application is fully completed by a landlord and a tenant, it takes about 30 days for the landlord to be paid.
  • There is a link the UniteCT website that allows people to get information on the status of their application or to get additional help if the tenant is now facing eviction or has made an error on their application. The link is: https://unitectprescreen.formstack.com/forms/unitect_referral_system 
  • The call center reached at 1-844-864-8328 is only for password resets and finding a tenant resource center. It cannot assist with any problems a landlord or tenant is having filling out an application or uploading documents.

Foreclosures

Ability to request a forbearance extended indefinitely for some homeowners—Homeowners with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac backed mortgage can request a forbearance at any time. Homeowners with FHA and VA mortgages may request a forbearance at least until the end of the COVID-19 national emergency. The ability to request a COVID forbearance of a USDA mortgage ended on September 30, 2021, but other options may be available.

A recent report shows that as many as 400,000 homeowners around the country will reach the end of their forbearance eligibility which will allow lenders and loan servicers to request that homeowners begin to pay their mortgage once again. Currently an estimated 1.71 million borrowers are in forbearance with unpaid balances of approximately $331 billion.

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