September 5, 2002
JURISDICTION AND EVICTION PROCEDURE FOR FEDERALLY SUBSIDIZED SENIOR HOUSING
By: Joseph R. Holstead, Research Analyst
You asked who governs the general rules of a federally subsidized senior housing complex, its board of directors or federal and state laws, and, if federal and state laws, what the procedure for eviction is.
A federally subsidized senior housing complex must comply with federal and state laws. It must use a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) lease, according to Betty Jones, Coordinator, HUD Public Housing Program Center, Hartford office. Such a lease includes the conditions under which a tenant may be evicted, Jones said.
State law sets the procedure for eviction. Elderly, disabled, or blind individuals may only be evicted for good cause. An eviction, called "summary process", begins when a landlord serves a tenant with a notice to quit. If the tenant fails to respond to this notice by refusing to move from the rented premises, the landlord may initiate proceedings in Superior Court by filing a summons and complaint. Tenants can respond to the complaint. If tenants contest the action, the court tries the case and enters judgment. The process ends when the court orders the judgment executed.
FEDERAL AND STATE LAW
Federal regulations for a federally subsidized project allow a landlord to evict a tenant only by judicial action pursuant to state or local law, unless preempted by federal law or action of the United States (24 CFR § 247. 6)
Under federal and state laws, an elderly person may only be evicted for good cause.
The elderly (over 62), blind, and physically disabled cannot be evicted except for good cause. Good cause, relevant to a senior housing complex, is defined as:
1. nonpayment of rent;
2. refusal to agree to a fair and equitable rent increase;
3. material noncompliance with tenants' statutory responsibilities concerning such things as the condition of the apartment, trash removal, and conducting themselves so as not to disturb their neighbors or be a nuisance (the noncompliance must materially affect other tenants' health and safety or the premises' physical condition);
4. voiding of the rental agreement because the tenant was convicted of using the premises for prostitution or illegal gambling, or material noncompliance with the rental agreement (CGS § 47a 23c); or
5. material noncompliance with a landlord's rules and regulations concerning use and occupancy that he adopts under CGS § 47a-9.
Summary process begins when the landlord serves the notice to quit and files the summons and complaint. The length of time it takes to evict a tenant after this service and filing depends on whether the tenant has a defense he intends to pursue and the landlord's diligence in wanting the tenant out. Generally, the process is as follows.
1. Notice to Quit. The notice to quit must be served five days before a rental agreement is terminated or five days before the time specified in the notice to quit (CGS § 47a-23).
2. Summons and Complaints. If the tenant does not quit possession by the end of the five-day period, any commissioner of the Superior Court may issue a summons and complaint to be served upon the tenant. The landlord may have the complaint served on any day of the week and may have it returnable six days thereafter. He must return it to the court at least three days before the return day (CGS § 47a-23a).
3. Appearance. A tenant must respond to the summons and complaint by filing an appearance with the court within two days after the return date. If the tenant does not file an appearance, the landlord may file (a) a motion for judgment for failure to appear and (b) an endorsed copy of the notice to quit with the court clerk. The court must then enter a judgment against the tenant and issue an order to vacate (CGS § 47a-26).
4. Answer to Complaint. In addition to filing an appearance, the tenant should file a summary process answer within two days after the return date. If the tenant does not file an answer within the two-day period, a landlord can file a motion for judgment based on failure to plead. And if the tenant fails to plead within three days after receipt of the motion by the clerk, the court must enter judgment against the tenant (CGS § 47a-26a).
5. Trial. A trial is scheduled after pleadings are closed (after the complaint has been answered and any special defenses have been raised and countered) (CGS § 47a-26d).
6. Judgment and Execution. A judgment is entered after the trial. If judgment is entered for a landlord, he must ask the court for an order of execution, which requires the tenant to move. After the court issues the execution, it must be given to a sheriff for proper service. The sheriff then serves the execution on the tenant. The sheriff is required to use reasonable efforts to locate and notify the tenant of the eviction date and time. After this period, the sheriff can physically remove the tenant's possession (CGS § 47-26d).
7. Stay of Execution. The law provides for an automatic five-day stay of execution (CGS § 47a-35). During the five days, a tenant can ask the court for an additional stay of up to six months.
A landlord can file a motion for use and occupancy once a tenant files an appearance. Once the motion is filed, the court can order a tenant to pay the last agreed-upon rent to the court during the pendency of the summary process action (CGS § 47a-26b).