CHAPTER 834

COURT PROCEEDINGS ON HOUSING MATTERS

Table of Contents

Sec. 47a-68. Definitions.

Sec. 47a-69. Housing mediators. Appointment. Qualifications. Duties.

Sec. 47a-70. Housing docket. Entry and transfer of cases on docket.

Sec. 47a-71. Citizens advisory councils for housing matters.

Sec. 47a-71a. Connecticut Advisory Council on Housing Matters.

Sec. 47a-72. Duties of Citizens Advisory Council. Meetings. No compensation or reimbursement.

Sec. 47a-73. Judges and council to report to General Assembly.

Sec. 47a-74. Rules of practice to be adopted.

Sec. 47a-75. Right to counsel in eviction proceedings.


Sec. 47a-68. Definitions. As used in this chapter, sections 51-51v and 51-165, subsection (b) of section 51-278 and section 51-348, “housing matters” means:

(1) Summary process;

(2) Appeals from the decisions of a fair rent commission under sections 7-148e and 7-148f;

(3) Actions and administrative appeals involving discrimination in the sale or rental of residential property;

(4) All actions regarding forcible entry and detainer;

(5) Actions under the provisions of this title, chapter 412 or section 47-294;

(6) All actions involving one or more violations of any state or municipal health, housing, building, electrical, plumbing, fire or sanitation code, including violations occurring in commercial properties, or of any other statute, ordinance or regulation concerned with the health, safety or welfare of any occupant of any housing;

(7) All actions under sections 47a-56a to 47a-59, inclusive;

(8) All actions for back rent, damages, return of security deposits and other relief arising out of the parties' relationship as landlord and tenant or owner and occupant;

(9) All other actions of any nature concerning the health, safety or welfare of any occupant of any place used or intended for use as a place of human habitation if any such action arises from or is related to its occupancy or right of occupancy.

(P.A. 78-365, S. 1, 13; P.A. 80-268, S. 1, 2; P.A. 81-472, S. 87, 159; P.A. 83-510, S. 5, 9; P.A. 87-439, S. 4, 6; P.A. 91-383, S. 23; P.A. 03-202, S. 16; June 12 Sp. Sess. P.A. 12-2, S. 84.)

History: P.A. 80-268 deleted former Subdiv. (f) which had included “tort claims arising from premises subject to chapter 830” as housing matters, relettering remaining Subdivs. as necessary; P.A. 81-472 made technical changes; P.A. 83-510 made no substantive change; P.A. 87-439 amended Subdiv. (e) by adding reference to Sec. 47-294; P.A. 91-383 amended Subdiv. (e) by adding reference to chapter 412; P.A. 03-202 amended Subdiv. (f) by adding provision re inclusion of violations occurring in commercial properties and making a technical change; June 12 Sp. Sess. P.A. 12-2 substituted Subdiv. designators (1) to (9) for Subdiv. designators (a) to (i) and made a technical change.

See Sec. 51-51v re appointment of clerks for housing matters.

See Sec. 51-165 re assignment of judges to hear housing matters.

See Sec. 51-278(b) re designation of assistant or deputy assistant state's attorneys to handle prosecutions of housing matters.

See Sec. 51-348 re separate docket for housing matters.

Cited. 214 C. 256; 217 C. 57.

Cited. 1 CA 439.

Cited. 36 CS 47. Jurisdiction of housing session of Superior Court over prosecutions of state and city building code violations is beyond reproach. Id., 103. Cited. 37 CS 534; Id., 569.

Sec. 47a-69. Housing mediators. Appointment. Qualifications. Duties. (a) The judges of the Superior Court or an authorized committee thereof may appoint such housing mediators as they deem necessary for the purpose of assisting the court in the prompt and efficient hearing of housing matters within the limit of their appropriation therefor. Such judges or such committee shall appoint not less than two such mediators for each of the judicial districts of Hartford, New Haven and Fairfield and may designate one of them in each judicial district as chief housing mediator. Such judges or committee shall also appoint not less than three such housing mediators for all other judicial districts. The housing mediators for the judicial district of New Haven shall assist the court in the hearing of housing matters in the judicial district of Waterbury, the housing mediators for the judicial district of Hartford shall assist the court in the hearing of housing matters in the judicial district of New Britain and the housing mediators for the judicial district of Fairfield shall assist the court in the hearing of housing matters in the judicial district of Stamford-Norwalk.

(b) Housing mediators shall be knowledgeable in the maintenance, repair and rehabilitation of dwelling units and the federal, state and municipal laws, ordinances, rules and regulations pertaining thereto. Housing mediators shall also have knowledge necessary to advise parties regarding the type of funds and services available to assist owners, landlords and tenants in the financing of resolutions to housing problems. Housing mediators shall make inspections and conduct investigations at the request of the court, shall advise parties in locating possible sources of financial assistance necessary to comply with orders of the court and shall exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as the judge may from time to time prescribe.

(c) Housing mediators (1) shall be responsible for the initial screening and evaluation of all contested housing matters eligible for placement on the housing docket pursuant to section 47a-68, (2) may conduct investigations of such matters including, but not limited to, interviews with the parties, and (3) may recommend settlements.

(P.A. 78-365, S. 2, 13; P.A. 80-448, S. 1, 8; P.A. 81-419, S. 1, 11; P.A. 82-461, S. 1, 15; P.A. 87-351, S. 1, 2; P.A. 88-230, S. 3, 12; P.A. 90-98, S. 1, 2; P.A. 93-142, S. 7, 8; P.A. 95-220, S. 46; P.A. 10-43, S. 14.)

History: P.A. 80-448 specified that housing specialists are responsible for screening and evaluating “contested” housing matters and replaced detailed provisions re specialists' investigatory powers and power to bring parties to nonjudicial settlement with general duties to conduct investigations and recommend settlements; P.A. 81-419 amended Subsec. (a) to provide for the appointment of two housing specialists for the judicial district of New Haven; P.A. 82-461 amended Subsec. (a) by requiring the appointment of housing specialists for the Fairfield judicial district and providing that the housing specialists for the New Haven and Fairfield judicial districts would assist in the hearing of housing matters in the Waterbury and Stamford-Norwalk judicial districts, respectively; P.A. 87-351 amended Subsec. (a) by requiring the appointment of not less than three housing specialists for all other judicial districts; P.A. 88-230 amended Subsec. (a) to replace “judicial district of Hartford-New Britain” with “judicial district of Hartford” and to add provision that the housing specialists for the judicial district of Hartford shall assist the court in the hearing of housing matters in the judicial district of New Britain, effective September 1, 1991; P.A. 90-98 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1991, to September 1, 1993; P.A. 93-142 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1993, to September 1, 1996, effective June 14, 1993; P.A. 95-220 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1996, to September 1, 1998, effective July 1, 1995; P.A. 10-43 renamed chief housing specialist as chief housing mediator and housing specialists as housing mediators.

See Sec. 51-51v re appointment of clerks for housing matters.

See Sec. 51-165 re assignment of judges to hear housing matters.

See Sec. 51-278(b) re designation of assistant or deputy assistant state's attorneys to handle prosecutions of housing matters.

See Sec. 51-348 re separate docket for housing matters.

Cited. 225 C. 757.

Sec. 47a-70. Housing docket. Entry and transfer of cases on docket. (a) All proceedings involving a housing matter in the judicial district of Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, Fairfield, Waterbury or Stamford-Norwalk shall first be placed on the housing docket for that district, provided that the judge before whom such proceeding is brought may transfer such matter to the regular docket for a judicial district if he determines that such matter is not a housing matter or that such docket is more suitable for the disposition of the case. Any case so entered or transferred to either docket shall be proceeded upon as are other cases of like nature standing on such docket.

(b) If two or more actions are pending between the same parties, including for the purposes hereof any other court proceedings arising out of or connected with the same housing accommodation, of which one or more of such actions is on the housing docket and one or more of such actions is on some other docket, the judge handling such other docket, upon motion of any party to any of such actions, may order that the action pending on such docket, with all papers relating thereto, be transferred to the housing docket; and such action or actions shall thereafter proceed as though originally entered there.

(P.A. 78-365, S. 6, 13; P.A. 81-419, S. 2; P.A. 82-461, S. 2; P.A. 88-230, S. 4, 12; P.A. 90-98, S. 1, 2; P.A. 93-142, S. 7, 8; P.A. 95-220, S. 46; P.A. 17-99, S. 6.)

History: P.A. 81-419 amended Subsec. (a) to provide that proceedings involving a housing matter in the judicial district of New Haven be placed on the housing docket for that district; P.A. 82-461 amended Subsec. (a) by including Fairfield, Waterbury and Stamford-Norwalk as judicial districts having housing dockets; P.A. 88-230 amended Subsec. (a) to reflect the division of the judicial district of Hartford-New Britain into the separate judicial districts of Hartford and of New Britain, effective September 1, 1991; P.A. 90-98 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1991, to September 1, 1993; P.A. 93-142 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1993, to September 1, 1996, effective June 14, 1993; P.A. 95-220 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1996, to September 1, 1998, effective July 1, 1995; P.A. 17-99 amended Subsec. (a) by deleting reference to geographical area re transfer of matter to regular docket.

See Sec. 51-51v re appointment of clerks for housing matters.

See Sec. 51-165 re assignment of judges to hear housing matters.

See Sec. 51-278(b) re designation of assistant or deputy assistant state's attorneys to prosecute housing matters.

See Sec. 51-348 re separate docket for housing matters.

Cited. 214 C. 256; 217 C. 57.

Housing judge has the discretion to transfer to regular civil docket a summary process action which because of its complexity would formerly have been outside the ambit of summary process. 1 CA 439.

Sec. 47a-71. Citizens advisory councils for housing matters. Section 47a-71 is repealed.

(P.A. 78-365, S. 7, 13; P.A. 80-448, S. 2, 8; P.A. 81-419, S. 3, 11; P.A. 82-461, S. 3, 15; P.A. 83-497, S. 1, 6, 7.)

Sec. 47a-71a. Connecticut Advisory Council on Housing Matters. There is hereby created the Connecticut Advisory Council on Housing Matters consisting of eighteen members. The members of the advisory council shall be appointed by the Governor for terms of four years, from July first of the year of their appointment. The advisory council shall consist of representatives of tenants, landlords, and others concerned with housing and shall reflect a balance of the interests of tenants and landlords. The members of the advisory council shall elect their own chairperson. Five members shall be residents of the judicial districts of Hartford or New Britain; five members shall be residents of the judicial districts of New Haven, Waterbury or Ansonia-Milford; five members shall be residents of the judicial districts of Fairfield or Stamford-Norwalk; and three members shall be residents of the judicial districts of Danbury, Litchfield, Middlesex, New London, Tolland or Windham. Any member who fails to attend three consecutive meetings or who fails to attend fifty per cent of all meetings held during any calendar year shall be deemed to have resigned from office. Any vacancy in the membership of the advisory council shall be filled by the Governor for the unexpired portion of the term.

(P.A. 83-497, S. 2; P.A. 87-249; P.A. 88-230, S. 5, 12; P.A. 90-98, S. 1, 2; P. A. 93-142, S. 7, 8; P.A. 95-220, S. 46; P.A. 13-299, S. 35; P.A. 14-4, S. 1.)

History: P.A. 87-249 increased membership from 27 to 36 persons, established residency requirement for the 9 additional members and added attendance requirement for all members; P.A. 88-230 replaced requirement that nine members be residents of “the judicial district of Hartford-New Britain” with requirement that they be residents of the “judicial districts of Hartford or New Britain” to reflect the division of the judicial district of Hartford-New Britain into two separate judicial districts, effective September 1, 1991; P.A. 90-98 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1991, to September 1, 1993; P.A. 93-142 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1993, to September 1, 1996, effective June 14, 1993; P.A. 95-220 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1996, to September 1, 1998, effective July 1, 1995; P.A. 13-299 replaced provisions re Citizens Advisory Council for Housing Matters with provisions re Advisory Council to the Superior Court Housing Session, decreased membership from 36 to 12 members, added provision re term to commence July first of the year of appointment, decreased number of members from each judicial district from 9 to 3, added provision re vacancies to be filled by Governor for unexpired portion of term, and made a technical change, effective July 1, 2013; P.A. 14-4 replaced reference to Advisory Council to the Superior Court Housing Session with reference to Connecticut Advisory Council on Housing Matters, increased membership from 12 to 18 members, increased number of members from 3 of the judicial districts from 3 to 5, and made technical changes, effective July 1, 2014.

Sec. 47a-72. Duties of Citizens Advisory Council. Meetings. No compensation or reimbursement. (a) The council shall from time to time view the housing docket proceedings and review the manner in which the housing docket is functioning, consult with the judges assigned to housing matters and the Chief Court Administrator and assist them in such manner as is appropriate, assist in making the public aware of the existence of the housing docket, receive comments from the general public about the handling of housing matters, and make such recommendations as it may choose. The council shall meet as a full body at least two times a year and on such additional occasions as it may require. The council may divide itself into subcommittees as it deems appropriate. The council may submit its recommendations concerning housing matters to the Chief Court Administrator, to any judge hearing housing matters and to the General Assembly. Members of the council shall receive no compensation and, notwithstanding the provisions of section 4-1, shall not receive their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties.

(b) The council may recommend to the Governor and to the Chief Court Administrator the names of persons it believes to be suitable for appointment or assignment to hear housing matters in any judicial district for which a special housing session has been established, pursuant to subsection (a) of section 47a-70.

(P.A. 78-365, S. 8, 13; P.A. 81-419, S. 4, 11; P.A. 83-497, S. 3.)

History: P.A. 81-419 deleted a reference to the judicial district of Hartford-New Britain, changed “the” council to “each” council and made certain other changes to reflect the creation of an additional council pursuant to Sec. 47a-71; P.A. 83-497 amended section to reflect establishment of single council pursuant to Sec. 47a-71a in place of the former three separate councils, required the council to meet as a full body at least two times a year and authorized the council to divide itself into subcommittees and to submit its recommendations to the general assembly.

See Sec. 51-51v re appointment of clerks for housing matters.

See Sec. 51-165 re assignment of judges to hear housing matters.

See Sec. 51-278(b) re designation of assistant or deputy assistant state's attorneys to prosecute housing matters.

See Sec. 51-348 re separate docket for housing matters.

Sec. 47a-73. Judges and council to report to General Assembly. The judges hearing housing matters and the Connecticut Advisory Council on Housing Matters shall each submit a report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, with respect to the operation of the special docket for housing matters and their respective recommendations to the General Assembly at the opening of its regular sessions in the odd-numbered years. Such reports may also include recommendations for legislation with respect to housing matters.

(P.A. 78-365, S. 9, 13; P.A. 80-448, S. 3, 8; P.A. 81-419, S. 5; P.A. 82-461, S. 4; P.A. 83-497, S. 4; P.A. 13-299, S. 36; P.A. 14-4, S. 2.)

History: P.A. 80-448 substituted “reports” for “report” and changed report deadline from February, 1980, to January, 1981; P.A. 81-419 deleted a specific reference to the judicial district of Hartford-New Britain, referring instead to housing dockets and advisory councils for judicial districts in general, deleted a requirement that the reports contain recommendations concerning the hearing of housing matters in other judicial districts, and replaced the requirement that reports be made by January, 1981 with a new reporting date of January, 1983; P.A. 82-461 required the judge and citizens advisory council for the Fairfield judicial district to make their reports in January, 1984; P.A. 83-497 amended section to reflect establishment of single advisory council pursuant to Sec. 47a-71a in place of the former three separate councils; P.A. 13-299 replaced reference to Citizens Advisory Council with reference to the Advisory Council to the Superior Court Housing Session, effective July 1, 2013; P.A. 14-4 replaced reference to Advisory Council to the Superior Court Housing Session with reference to Connecticut Advisory Council on Housing Matters, made a technical change and added reference to Sec. 11-4a, effective July 1, 2014.

See Sec. 51-51v re appointment of clerks for housing matters.

See Sec. 51-165 re assignment of judges to hear housing matters.

See Sec. 51-278(b) re designation of assistant or deputy assistant state's attorneys to prosecute housing matters.

See Sec. 51-348 re separate docket for housing matters.

Sec. 47a-74. Rules of practice to be adopted. The judges of the Superior Court may adopt such rules of practice and procedure not inconsistent with the general statutes to implement the provisions of this chapter and section 51-51v, 51-165, 51-348 and subsection (b) of section 51-278.

(P.A. 78-365, S. 11, 13; P.A. 81-472, S. 88, 159.)

History: P.A. 81-472 made technical changes.

See Sec. 51-51v re appointment of clerks for housing matters.

See Sec. 51-165 re assignment of judges to hear housing matters.

See Sec. 51-278(b) re designation of assistant or deputy assistant state's attorneys to prosecute housing matters.

See Sec. 51-348 re separate docket for housing matters.

Sec. 47a-75. Right to counsel in eviction proceedings. (a) As used in this section:

(1) “Covered individual” means any party to a covered matter who is an income-eligible tenant, lessee or occupant, for residential purposes, of any land or building, any apartment in any building, any dwelling unit, any trailer or mobile manufactured home or any land upon which a trailer or mobile manufactured home is used or stands;

(2) “Covered matter” means any notice to quit delivered to, or any summary process action instituted against, a covered individual pursuant to chapter 832 or chapter 412 or any administrative proceeding against a covered individual necessary to preserve a state or federal housing subsidy or to prevent a proposed termination of the lease;

(3) “Designated organization” means any not-for-profit legal services organization that provides legal representation in a covered matter to a covered individual;

(4) “Administering entity” means the organization contracted by or party to a memorandum of agreement with the Judicial Branch to administer the right to counsel program in accordance with subsection (b) of this section;

(5) “Legal representation” means representation in a covered matter provided by a designated organization to a covered individual, and all legal advice, advocacy and assistance associated with such representation, subject to and in accordance with the Rules of Professional Conduct;

(6) “Income-eligible” means (A) having household income at or below eighty per cent of the state median income adjusted for family size, as determined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, at the time of the request for representation; or (B) receiving one of the following types of public assistance: (i) Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, (ii) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, (iii) Medicaid, (iv) Supplemental Security Income, (v) refugee resettlement benefits, (vi) rental assistance under chapter 138a of the general statutes, or (vii) the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program, 42 USC 1437f(o);

(7) “Tenant”, “landlord”, “owner” and “dwelling unit” have the same meanings as provided in section 47a-1;

(8) “Notice to quit” means any notice to quit possession or occupancy delivered pursuant to chapter 832 or chapter 412 to a lessee or occupant;

(9) “Lessee or occupant” means any tenant, lessee or occupant, for residential purposes, of any land or building, apartment in any building, dwelling unit, trailer or mobile manufactured home, or land upon which a trailer or mobile manufactured home is used or stands; and

(10) “Right to counsel program” means the state-wide right to counsel program to provide legal representation to a covered individual in a covered matter established under this section.

(b) There is established a right to counsel program for the purpose of providing any covered individual with legal representation at no cost in a covered matter initiated on or after July 1, 2021. The Judicial Branch shall, using available federal funds, contract with or enter a memorandum of agreement with an administering entity to administer the right to counsel program. The administering entity, within the funding available to it for the right to counsel program, shall fund the provision of legal representation by designated organizations under this section. A designated organization may subcontract with a nonprofit or community organization to provide legal representation to a covered individual, and to provide tenant outreach and education. A designated organization shall, at a minimum: (1) Have substantial expertise in housing law and landlord tenant law and substantial experience furnishing free legal assistance to eligible individuals; (2) have a demonstrated history of serving the low-income community; (3) identify the geographic area in which such organization provides legal representation; (4) have a plan to reach and provide legal representation to income-eligible persons with limited English proficiency; and (5) provide appropriate supervision and training.

(c) The administering entity may receive funds or services from the state or federal government, corporations, associations or individuals to fund: (1) The provision of legal representation to covered individuals in covered matters; (2) the administration of the right to counsel program for the administering entity and designated organizations; and (3) tenant outreach and education.

(d) If the Judicial Branch receives state or federal funds pursuant to this section for the purpose of appointing additional housing mediators under section 47a-69, the Judicial Branch shall appoint such additional housing mediators to facilitate the resolution of summary process actions.

(e) (1) There is established a working group to advise on matters and policies affecting the right to counsel program, to effectuate the right to counsel. The working group shall consist of the following members:

(A) Two appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives;

(B) Two appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate;

(C) One appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives;

(D) One appointed by the majority leader of the Senate;

(E) One appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives;

(F) One appointed by the minority leader of the Senate;

(G) The Commissioner of Housing, or the commissioner's designee;

(H) A representative of the administering entity; and

(I) A representative of the Judicial Branch.

(2) All initial appointments to the working group shall be made not later than thirty days after July 1, 2021. Members shall serve for a term of four years and may be reappointed or continue to serve until such member's successor is appointed. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority.

(3) The Commissioner of Housing, or the commissioner's designee, shall serve as chairperson of the working group. Such chairperson shall schedule the first meeting of the working group, which shall be held not later than sixty days after the effective date of this section. The chairperson shall convene the working group on a regular basis, but not less than three times per year.

(4) The Department of Housing shall provide administrative support to the working group.

(f) (1) The Judicial Branch, in consultation with the administering entity, working group and designated organizations, shall approve a one-page plain-language notice to inform a tenant of the rights under the right to counsel program. Not later than October 1, 2021, such notice shall be made available on the Judicial Branch's Internet web site and available to the public. Such notice shall include a phone number for accessing information and applying for assistance.

(2) On and after October 1, 2021, an owner, lessor, landlord, legal representative or agent of an owner, lessor or landlord, a housing authority or a housing subsidy program administrator, as applicable, shall attach a copy of the notice described under subdivision (1) of this subsection, to (A) a notice to quit delivered to a covered individual pursuant to chapter 832 or chapter 412; (B) a summons and complaint for a summary process action pursuant to chapter 832 or chapter 412; (C) a lease termination notice for a public or subsidized housing unit; and (D) a notice to terminate a state or federal housing subsidy.

(3) Any court notice scheduling a mediation or hearing that is sent to a self-represented party in a covered matter shall include plain language information about the availability of legal representation through the right to counsel program and a phone number for accessing information and applying for assistance.

(g) The administering entity, in consultation with the working group and designated organizations, shall determine how to phase in the right to counsel program based on all relevant factors, including, but not limited to: (1) The prioritization of certain groups of individuals by income, zip codes, census tracts or other priority criteria developed in consultation with the designated organizations and the working group; (2) the availability of program funding; (3) the number of trained legal services attorneys available to provide legal representation; and (4) the scope of the need for legal representation.

(h) Nothing in this section shall be construed to establish any right enforceable by a covered individual against a designated organization or the administering entity.

(i) Not later than January 1, 2023, and annually thereafter, the administering entity shall submit a report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to housing and the Judicial Department. Such report shall include the following information: (1) The number of covered individuals provided legal representation pursuant to this section; (2) the extent of legal representation provided; (3) any outcomes achieved, such as the rates of tenant representation, tenant retention of housing or other appropriate outcome measures; and (4) the engagement and education of tenants.

(P.A. 21-34, S. 1.)

History: P.A. 21-34 effective July 1, 2021.