EDITORIAL: Helping residents stay safe at home

People are being asked to do the extraordinary these days. We’re by now well familiar with the sacrifice. Staying at home is not easy under the best of circumstances and it can get even more difficult if you’re a renter and don’t have the money to stay current on your obligation.

That explains why it was important for Gov. Ned Lamont to issue an executive order, last Friday, that puts restrictions on landlords when it comes to evicting tenants and gives grace periods to tenants over the next several months. The order means that until July 1 landlords can’t issue a notice to quit or begin eviction proceedings unless there are extraordinary circumstances.

Landlords deserve consideration as well, so the order requires tenants to notify landlords when they have lost a job, or lost revenue or otherwise face increased expenses as a result of the pandemic.

Said Lamont: “During this crisis, these protections will allow residents to stay safe at home, while prohibiting landlords from charging late fees or interest for nonpayment and provide a buffer for the next couple of months.”

All of this makes sense, but as Meriden landlord Ross Gulino told the Record-Journal other measures could also help landlords, including deferring municipal property taxes and water and sewer bills.

From that point of view, as well as other concerns on the part of tenants, the governor’s order can be seen as a good first step. Erin Kemple, executive director of the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, said the order at least provides time to get answers to some of the lingering issues. “While it’s good because it stops the eviction process, it doesn’t do anything for tenants who can’t afford to pay the rent,” she said.

It’s clear that the phrase “we’re all in this together” in some circumstances can get quite complicated. The relationship between tenants and landlords is one that will take some working on in these unprecedented times.


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