Connecticut Seal

Substitute Senate Bill No. 389

Public Act No. 06-185

AN ACT AUTHORIZING MUNICIPALITIES TO ESTABLISH A SPECIAL ASSESSMENT ON BLIGHTED HOUSING, INCREASING THE FINES FOR VIOLATIONS OF MUNICIPAL ORDINANCES AND CONCERNING MUNICIPAL LIENS FOR ACCRUED FINES AND CODE VIOLATIONS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2006) (a) Any municipality that has regulations preventing housing blight under subparagraph (H)(xv) of subdivision (7) of subsection (c) of section 7-148 of the general statutes, may, by ordinance adopted by its legislative body on recommendation of its board of finance or equivalent body, provide for a special assessment on housing that is blighted, as defined in such regulations.

(b) Prior to initial approval by the legislative body of such municipality of the plan for implementation of the special assessment to be provided pursuant to the provisions of this section, the executive authority of such municipality shall appoint a committee consisting of not less than six taxpayers of such municipality, one of whom shall be a landlord, the tax assessor and representatives of municipal agencies responsible for zoning and health, housing, fire and other safety code compliance. The committee shall undertake and complete, within a period not in excess of sixty days following such appointment, a study and investigation with respect to such special assessment and shall submit a report to the board of finance or equivalent body of such municipality. The report shall include, but not be limited to, the following: (1) A statement describing the fiscal effect of a special assessment on the revenue for the municipality; (2) identification of properties that may be subject to a special assessment; (3) the amount of property taxes generated by the properties and the cost to the municipality for code enforcement on such properties, including costs for police and fire personnel; (4) recommendations with respect to the form and extent of any assessment; and (5) standards for imposition of the assessment. In establishing any standards, the committee shall consider the number of outstanding health, housing and safety violations for the property, the number of times municipal health, housing and safety personnel have had to inspect the property and the cost to the municipality to enforce code compliance on the property. After the initial approval of the special assessment by the legislative body of such municipality, such plan may be amended from time to time by vote of its legislative body on recommendation of its board of finance or equivalent body without compliance with the requirements of this subsection applicable to such initial approval.

(c) Any ordinance adopted under subsection (a) of this section shall include, but not be limited to, the following: (1) Standards to determine if a special assessment should be imposed on a property, (2) the amount of the assessment, which shall be a reasonable amount and based on an analysis of the costs to the municipality code inspection and enforcement, including costs for police and fire personnel, (3) procedures for notice to the property owner of imposition of the special assessment, which shall include a time period to remedy the code noncompliance before the assessment is due and a process for appeal of an assessment, and (4) the appointment of a board consisting of the finance director, tax assessor and municipal code enforcement official to determine when the special assessment should be imposed on specific property. Annually, the legislative body shall review the amount of any assessment to be imposed pursuant to an ordinance adopted under this section and may revise such amount.

(d) Any funds received by a municipality from a special assessment imposed pursuant to an ordinance adopted under subsection (c) of this section shall be deposited into a special fund or account maintained by the municipality which shall be dedicated for expenses of the municipality related to enforcement of ordinances regulating blight and state and local health, housing and safety codes and regulations, including expenses related to community police.

(e) Any unpaid special assessment imposed by a municipality pursuant to the provisions of an ordinance adopted under subsection (c) of this section shall constitute a lien upon the real estate against which the fine was imposed from the date of such fine. Each such lien may be continued, recorded and released in the manner provided by the general statutes for continuing, recording and releasing property tax liens. Each such lien may be enforced in the same manner as property tax liens.

Sec. 2. Section 47a-53 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2006):

(a) Whenever any tenement, lodging or boarding house or any building, structure, excavation, business pursuit, matter or thing in or about such house or the lot on which it is situated, or the plumbing, sewerage, drainage, lighting, paint or ventilation of such house, is, in the opinion of the board of health or other enforcing agency, in a condition which is or in its effect is dangerous or detrimental to life or health, or whenever any tenement, lodging or boarding house in the opinion of the board or enforcing agency, is in violation of the provisions of section 19a-109, the board or other enforcing agency may declare that the same, to the extent specified by the board or other enforcing agency, is a public nuisance. The board or enforcing agency may order such public nuisance to be removed, abated, suspended, altered or otherwise remedied, improved or purified. The board of health or other enforcing agency may also order or cause any tenement house or part thereof, or any excavation, building, structure, sewer, plumbing pipe, paint, passage, premises, ground, matter or thing in or about a tenement, lodging or boarding house or the lot on which such house is situated, to be purified, cleansed, disinfected, removed, altered, repaired or improved.

(b) If any order of the board of health or other enforcing agency is not complied with, or not so far complied with as the board or other enforcing agency regards as reasonable, within five days after the service thereof, or within such shorter time as the board or other enforcing agency designates, such order may be executed by the board or other enforcing agency, through its officers, agents, employees or contractors. The expense of executing such order, including an amount not to exceed five per cent of the expense thereof as a service charge and ten per cent of the expense thereof as a penalty shall be collected from the owner by an action in the name of the city, borough or town.

(c) (1) Any expense of executing an order, including any service charge and penalty imposed by the board of health or other enforcing agency pursuant to the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, and remaining unpaid for a period of sixty days after its due date shall constitute a lien upon the real estate against which the expense was imposed, provided a notice of violation is recorded in the land records and indexed in the name of the property owner not later than thirty days after the expense was imposed.

(2) Each such notice of violation shall be effective from the time of the recording on the land records. Each lien shall take precedence over transfers and encumbrances recorded after such time.

(3) Any municipal lien pursuant to the provisions of this section may be foreclosed in the same manner as a mortgage.

(4) Any municipal lien pursuant to this section may be discharged or dissolved in the manner provided in sections 49-35a to 49-37, inclusive.

(d) Any board of health or other enforcing agency imposing an expense, including a service charge and penalty, pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall maintain a current record of all properties with respect to which such expenses remain unpaid in the office of such board or agency. Such record shall be available for inspection by the public.

Sec. 3. Section 47a-58 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2006):

(a) Any enforcing agency may issue a notice of violation to any person who violates any provision of this chapter or a provision of a local housing code. Such notice shall specify each violation and specify the last day by which such violation shall be corrected. The date specified shall not be less than three weeks from the date of mailing of such notice, provided that in the case of a condition, which in the judgment of the enforcing agency is or in its effect is dangerous or detrimental to life or health, the date specified shall not be more than five days from the date of mailing of such notice. The enforcing agency may postpone the last day by which a violation shall be corrected upon a showing by the owner or other responsible person that he has begun to correct the violation but that full correction of the violation cannot be completed within the time provided because of technical difficulties, inability to obtain necessary materials or labor or inability to gain access to the dwelling unit wherein the violation exists.

(b) When the owner or other responsible person has corrected such violation, [he] the owner or other responsible person shall promptly, but not later than two weeks after such correction, report to the enforcing agency in writing, indicating the date when each violation was corrected. It shall be presumed that the violation was corrected on the date so indicated, unless a subsequent inspection by the enforcing agency again reveals the existence of the condition giving rise to the earlier notice of violation.

(c) Any person who fails to correct any violation prior to the date set forth in the notice of violation shall be subject to a cumulative civil penalty of five dollars per day for each violation from the date set for correction in the notice of violation to the date such violation is corrected, except that in any case the penalty shall not exceed [five] one hundred dollars per day nor shall the total penalty exceed [seventy-five] seven thousand five hundred dollars. The penalty may be collected by the enforcing agency by action against the owner or other responsible person or by an action against the real property. An action against the owner may be joined with an action against the real property.

(d) In addition to the penalties specified in this section, the enforcing agency may enforce the provisions of this chapter or a local housing code by injunctive relief pursuant to chapter 916.

(e) (1) Any penalty imposed by an enforcing agency pursuant to the provisions of subsection (c) of this section, and remaining unpaid for a period of sixty days after its due date shall constitute a lien upon the real property against which the penalty was imposed, provided a notice of violation is recorded in the land records and indexed in the name of the property owner no later than thirty days after the penalty was imposed.

(2) Each such notice of violation shall be effective from the time of the recording on the land records. Each lien shall take precedence over all transfers and encumbrances recorded after such time.

(3) Any municipal lien pursuant to the provisions of this section may be foreclosed in the same manner as a mortgage.

(4) Any municipal lien pursuant to this section may be discharged or dissolved in the manner provided in sections 49-35a to 49-37, inclusive.

(f) Any enforcing agency imposing a penalty pursuant to subsection (c) of this section shall maintain a current record of all properties with respect to which such penalty remains unpaid in the office of such agency. Such record shall be available for inspection by the public.

Sec. 4. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2006) Each municipality, in addition to any other notice required under the general statutes or any municipal health, housing or safety codes or regulations, shall simultaneously send to each lien holder of real estate a copy of any notice or order by such municipality to the owner of such real estate to demolish, remove or otherwise dispose of the real estate or to make it safe and sanitary issued under any provision of the general statutes or any municipal building, health or safety codes or regulations as well as a copy of any notice sent to the owner of such real estate or recorded on the land record, with respect to any costs or expenses incurred by the municipality to demolish, remove or otherwise dispose of the real estate or to make it safe and sanitary. The municipality shall make reasonable efforts to send such copy by first class mail to the lienholder's current or last-known address.

Sec. 5. Section 49-73b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2006):

(a) Any municipality which has incurred expenses for the inspection, repair, demolition, removal or other disposition of any real estate in order to secure such real estate or to make it safe and sanitary under any provision of the general statutes or any municipal building, health, housing or safety codes or regulations shall have the right to recover such expenses from the owner of the real estate for which such expenses were incurred.

(b) The interest of each person in such real estate shall be subject to a lien for the payment of such expenses, which lien shall take precedence over any other encumbrance except municipal tax assessments on such real estate. No such lien shall be valid, unless the municipality, within thirty days after such work has ceased, files a certificate of such lien and gives notice to the owner of the real estate in the same manner as provided in section 49-34. Simultaneous with the filing, the municipality shall make reasonable efforts to mail a copy of the certificate by first class mail to the lienholder's current or last-known address.

(c) The interest of each person in the proceeds of any policy providing insurance coverage issued by an insurance company for a loss to a covered residential or commercial structure, including any policy written pursuant to the provisions of section 38a-670, shall be subject to a lien on such proceeds for the expenses incurred by a municipality pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, provided such municipality, within thirty days after such work has ceased, files a certificate of such lien and gives notice to such interested person in the same manner as provided in section 49-34.

(d) Any municipal lien filed pursuant to the provisions of this section may be foreclosed in the same manner as a mortgage.

(e) Any certificate of lien filed pursuant to this section shall exist from the fifteenth day succeeding the date of entry of such certificate in the land records.

(f) Any municipal lien filed pursuant to this section may be discharged or dissolved in the manner provided in sections 49-35a to 49-37, inclusive.

(g) Nothing in this section shall prevent an insured owner, mortgagee, assignee or other interested party from negotiating a dissolution of any such lien on the insurance proceeds, enabling the insurance company to disburse said proceeds.

(h) The provisions of this section shall not apply to policies on single-family or two-family dwellings.

Sec. 6. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2006) If a municipality does not file a lien under any provisions of the general statutes to recover costs for the inspection, repair, demolition, removal or other disposition of any real estate in order to secure such real estate or to make it safe and sanitary, pursuant to any provision of the general statutes or municipal building, health, housing or safety codes or regulations, then such municipality may assess the amount of such costs against the real estate upon which such cost was incurred. Upon certification by the municipal agency incurring such cost of the assessment amount due and owing reasonably related to the municipality's actual cost, the tax collector shall add the amount of such assessment to the extent unpaid to the taxes due on such real estate and such amount shall become a part of the taxes to be collected at the same time and shall bear interest at such rates and in such manner as provided for delinquent taxes in accordance with section 12-146 of the general statutes. Any amount added to the assessment under this section shall constitute a lien upon the real estate against for which the amount was imposed from the date such amount was due. Each such lien may be continued, recorded and released in the manner provided by the general statutes for continuing, recording and releasing property tax liens. Each such lien may be enforced in the same manner as property tax liens. Any agency of a municipality that incurs costs that have been assessed against real estate under this section shall maintain a current record of all real estate with respect to which such costs remain unpaid in the office of such municipal agency. Such record shall be available for inspection by the public.

Sec. 7. Subdivision (10) of subsection (c) of section 7-148 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2006):

(10) (A) Make all lawful regulations and ordinances in furtherance of any general powers as enumerated in this section, and prescribe penalties for the violation of the same not to exceed [one hundred] two hundred fifty dollars, unless otherwise specifically provided by the general statutes. Such regulations and ordinances may be enforced by citations issued by designated municipal officers or employees, provided the regulations and ordinances have been designated specifically by the municipality for enforcement by citation in the same manner in which they were adopted and the designated municipal officers or employees issue a written warning providing notice of the specific violation before issuing the citation;

(B) Adopt a code of ethical conduct;

(C) Establish and maintain free legal aid bureaus;

(D) Perform data processing and related administrative computer services for a fee for another municipality;

(E) Adopt the model ordinance concerning a municipal freedom of information advisory board created under subsection (f) of section 1-205 and establish a municipal freedom of information advisory board as provided by said ordinance and said section.

Sec. 8. Subsection (b) of section 51-164n of the 2006 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2006):

(b) Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes, any person who is alleged to have committed (1) a violation under the provisions of section 1-9, 1-10, 1-11, 4b-13, 7-13, 7-14, 7-35, 7-41, 7-83, 7-283, 7-325, 7-393, 8-25, 8-27, 9-63, 9-296, 9-305, 9-322, 9-350, 10-193, 10-197, 10-198, 10-230, 10-251, 10-254, 12-52, 12-170aa, as amended, 12-292, or 12-326g, as amended, subdivision (4) of section 12-408, subdivision (3), (5) or (6) of section 12-411, section 12-435c, 12-476a, 12-476b, 12-487, 13a-71, 13a-107, 13a-113, 13a-114, 13a-115, 13a-117b, 13a-123, as amended, 13a-124, 13a-139, 13a-140, 13a-143b, 13a-247 or 13a-253, subsection (f) of section 13b-42, section 13b-90, 13b-221, 13b-292, 13b-336, 13b-337, 13b-338, 13b-410a, 13b-410b or 13b-410c, subsection (a), (b) or (c) of section 13b-412, section 13b-414, subsection (d) of section 14-12, as amended, section 14-20a or 14-27a, subsection (e) of section 14-34a, subsection (d) of section 14-35, section 14-43, 14-49, as amended, 14-50a or 14-58, subsection (b) of section 14-66, as amended, section 14-66a, 14-66b or 14-67a, subsection (g) of section 14-80, subsection (f) of section 14-80h, as amended, section 14-97a, 14-100b, 14-103a, 14-105a, 14-106a, 14-106c, 14-146, 14-152, 14-153 or 14-163b, a first violation as specified in subsection (f) of section 14-164i, section 14-219 as specified in subsection (e) of said section, subdivision (1) of section 14-223a, as amended, section 14-240, 14-249, as amended, or 14-250, as amended, subsection (a), (b) or (c) of section 14-261a, section 14-262, 14-264, 14-267a, 14-269, 14-270, as amended, 14-275a, 14-278 or 14-279, subsection (e) of section 14-283, as amended, section 14-291, 14-293b, 14-319, 14-320, 14-321, 14-325a, 14-326, 14-330 or 14-332a, subdivision (1), (2) or (3) of section 14-386a, section 15-33, subsection (a) of section 15-115, section 16-256, 16-256e, 16a-15, as amended, or 16a-22, subsection (a) or (b) of section 16a-22h, section 17a-24, 17a-145, as amended, 17a-149, 17a-152, 17a-465, 17a-642, 17b-124, 17b-131, 17b-137 or 17b-734, subsection (b) of section 17b-736, section 19a-30, 19a-33, 19a-39 or 19a-87, subsection (b) of section 19a-87a, section 19a-91, 19a-105, 19a-107, 19a-215, 19a-219, 19a-222, 19a-224, 19a-286, 19a-287, 19a-297, 19a-301, 19a-309, 19a-335, 19a-336, 19a-338, 19a-339, 19a-340, 19a-425, 19a-502, 20-7a, as amended, 20-14, 20-158, 20-231, 20-257, 20-265 or 20-324e, subsection (a) of section 20-341, section 20-341l, 20-597, 20-608, 20-610, 21-30, 21-38, 21-39, 21-43, 21-47, 21-48, 21-63, as amended, 21-76a, 21a-21, 21a-25, 21a-26 or 21a-30, subsection (a) of section 21a-37, section 21a-46, 21a-61, 21a-63 or 21a-77, subsection (b) of section 21a-79, as amended, section 21a-85, 21a-154, 21a-159, 21a-201, 21a-211, 22-13, 22-14, 22-15, 22-16, 22-29, 22-34, 22-35, 22-36, 22-38, 22-39, as amended, 22-39a, 22-39b, 22-39c, 22-39d, 22-39e, 22-49, 22-54, 22-61, 22-89, 22-90, 22-98, 22-99, 22-100, 22-111o, 22-279, 22-280a, 22-318a, 22-320h, 22-324a, 22-326 or 22-342, subsection (b) or (e) of section 22-344, section 22-359, 22-366, 22-391, 22-413, 22-414, 22-415, 22a-66a or 22a-246, subsection (a) of section 22a-250, as amended, subsection (e) of section 22a-256h, subsection (a) of section 22a-381d, section 22a-449, as amended, 22a-461, 23-37, 23-38, 23-46 or 23-61b, subsection (a) or (b) of section 23-65, section 25-37, 25-40, 26-19, 26-21, 26-31, 26-40, 26-40a, 26-49, 26-54, 26-59, 26-61, 26-64, 26-79, 26-89, 26-97, 26-107, 26-117, 26-128, 26-131, 26-132, 26-138, 26-141, 26-207, 26-215, 26-224a, 26-227, 26-230, 26-294, 28-13, 29-6a, 29-109, 29-161y, 29-161z, 29-198, 29-210, 29-243, 29-277, 29-316, 29-318, 29-341, 29-381, 30-48a, 30-86a, as amended, 31-3, 31-10, 31-11, 31-12, 31-13, 31-14, 31-15, 31-16, 31-18, 31-23, 31-24, 31-25, 31-28, 31-32, 31-36, 31-38, 31-38a, 31-40, 31-44, 31-47, 31-48, 31-51, 31-51k, 31-52, 31-52a or 31-54, subsection (a) or (c) of section 31-69, section 31-70, 31-74, 31-75, 31-76, 31-76a, 31-89b or 31-134, subsection (i) of section 31-273, as amended, section 31-288, 36a-787, 42-230, 45a-450, 45a-634 or 45a-658, subdivision (13) or (14) of section 46a-54, as amended, section 46a-59, 46b-22, 46b-24, 46b-34, 46b-38dd, 46b-38gg, 46b-38kk, 47-34a, 47-47, 49-8a, 49-16 or 53-133, subsection (a) or (b) of section 53-211, or section 53-212a, 53-249a, 53-252, 53-264, 53-302a, 53-303e, 53-311a, 53-321, 53-322, 53-323, 53-331, 53-344 or 53-450, or (2) a violation under the provisions of chapter 268, or (3) a violation of any regulation adopted in accordance with the provisions of section 12-484, 12-487 or 13b-410, or (4) a violation of any ordinance, regulation or bylaw of any town, city or borough, except violations of building codes and the health code, for which the penalty exceeds ninety dollars but does not exceed two hundred fifty dollars, unless such town, city or borough has established a payment and hearing procedure for such violation pursuant to section 7-152c, shall follow the procedures set forth in this section.

Sec. 9. Section 51-164p of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2006):

(a) Notwithstanding any provision of any special act, local law or the general statutes to the contrary, any violation of any ordinance, regulation or bylaw of any town, city or borough, except violations of building codes and the health code, for which the penalty does not exceed ninety dollars shall be an infraction as provided for in sections 51-164m and 51-164n, as amended by this act.

(b) Notwithstanding any provision of any special act, local law or the general statutes, any violation of any ordinance, regulation or bylaw of any town, city or borough, except violations of building codes and the health code, for which the penalty exceeds ninety dollars but does not exceed two hundred fifty dollars shall be a violation as provided for in sections 51-164m and 51-164n, as amended by this act.

Approved June 9, 2006