OLR Bill Analysis
HB 5741 (as amended by House "A" and "B")*
AN ACT CONCERNING SOBER LIVING HOMES.
This bill contains various provisions regarding the oversight of sober living homes. These homes are residences where an operator provides, or offers to provide, a supportive environment for adults who are recovering from substance use disorder. Specifically, the bill:
1. establishes advertising and marketing requirements for sober living home operators;
2. requires the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) to (a) create a one-page disclosure form for sober living home operators to distribute to prospective residents and (b) post the form on the DMHAS website;
3. requires operators, before executing a rental agreement with a potential resident, to obtain the resident's signature on the disclosure form, submit the signed form to DMHAS, and maintain the form (presumably a copy) for at least three years thereafter; and
4. requires operators to (a) maintain a supply of opioid antagonists on the premises, (b) post notice of resident requirements on the premises, and (c) comply with landlord and other applicable laws and ordinances.
*House Amendment “A” replaces the original bill (File 578), which allowed a sober living home to register with DMHAS and prohibited one that did not do so from advertising or holding itself out as one.
*House Amendment “B” modifies the provision requiring sober living home operators to maintain a supply of opioid antagonists on the premises.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017
Marketing and Advertising
The bill prohibits a sober living home operator from (1) advertising or representing that the home is a facility certified or licensed to provide substance use disorder treatment services or (2) publishing claims of particular outcomes for residents.
It also requires a home's website or publication to include a clear and conspicuous statement in bold typeface that the home is (1) not licensed or certified to provide substance use disorder treatment services and (2) a type of housing where individuals recovering from substance use disorder voluntarily choose to live together in a supportive environment during their recovery.
Under the bill, a violation of the above provisions is a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA, see BACKGROUND).
The bill requires a sober living home operator to maintain a supply of opioid antagonists on the premises and train residents in administering them when at least one resident has been diagnosed with opioid use disorder.
The operator must maintain at least two opioid antagonists at all times. But, if the home is occupied by at least one resident diagnosed with opioid use disorder, the operator must maintain a supply that is no less than the number of residents diagnosed with such a disorder. The bill requires the operator to replace an opioid antagonist within a reasonable time (the bill does not define this term) after being notified of its use.
The bill requires a sober living operator to post in at least one common area of the home (1) all home resident requirements, including required recovery activities; (2) policies regarding a resident's personal property within the home; and (3) grievance policies and procedures for residents to follow.
Landlord Tenant Laws
Under the bill, a sober living home operator must comply with (1) landlord requirements under state law, provided the operator is the lawful owner of the home, and (2) the State Building Code, Fire Safety Code, and any applicable municipal ordinance.
DMHAS DISCLOSURE FORM
By August 1, 2017, the DMHAS commissioner must create a printable one-page disclosure form for sober living home operators to distribute to prospective residents. The form must:
1. be written in plain language and an easily readable format,
2. state that sober living homes are not licensed or certified to provide substance use disorder treatment services,
3. provide information on sober living homes and resources for individuals recovering from a substance use disorder, and
4. contain a signature line on which a prospective resident may sign the form.
The bill requires the commissioner to review and update the form as necessary and post it on the department's website.
Additionally, starting August 15, 2017, the bill requires a sober living home operator, before executing a rental agreement with a potential resident, to obtain the resident's signature on the disclosure form affirming that he or she has read and understood it. The operator must provide the signed form to DMHAS, who must maintain it in accordance with state and federal confidentiality laws. The operator must also keep the form (presumably a copy) for at least three years after the resident signs it.
Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA)
The law prohibits businesses from engaging in unfair and deceptive acts or practices. CUTPA allows the consumer protection commissioner to issue regulations defining what constitutes an unfair trade practice, investigate complaints, issue cease and desist orders, order restitution in cases involving less than $10,000, enter into consent agreements, ask the attorney general to seek injunctive relief, and accept voluntary statements of compliance. It also allows individuals to sue. Courts may issue restraining orders; award actual and punitive damages, costs, and reasonable attorney's fees; and impose civil penalties of up to $5,000 for willful violations and $25,000 for violation of a restraining order.
Public Health Committee