June 6, 2013
by Renee Bishop
Bendett & McHugh, PC – USFN Member (Connecticut, Maine, Vermont)
In a recent decision by the Housing Session of the Superior Court of Connecticut, the court determined that the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) does not apply to tenancies made in exchange for performing services. [Customer’s Bank v. Boxer, 2013 WL 1010747 (Conn. Super. Ct. Feb. 2013)].
The summary process action was the result of the plaintiff’s foreclosure of a mortgage. The defendants claimed to be in occupancy of the premises pursuant to a lease between the defendants and the former owner of the premises. Further, the defendants asserted that they were protected from the underlying eviction proceeding and were entitled to receive a 90-day notice to vacate under the PTFA. The defendants testified that they occupied the premises pursuant to an oral agreement with the prior owner and that they never paid rent to the prior owner or to the plaintiff, but had made repairs to the property in lieu of rent payments. The defendants did not provide evidence supporting the dates or amounts for repairs or expenditures allegedly made.
The PTFA is a remedial statute that is intended to protect only those persons who meet the definition of a bona fide tenant. The plaintiff argued that the defendants cannot be qualified as bona fide tenants since the Act specifically requires “receipt of rent” by the landlord. The PTFA does not define the phrase “receipt of rent.”
The court turned to Connecticut General Statute 47a-1(h), which defines “rent” as all periodic payments to be made to the landlord under a rental agreement. The court also cited the case of City of Norwich v. Shelby-Possello, 2012 Conn. Super. Lexis 1925, which held in pertinent part that under the PTFA, a lease or tenancy shall be considered bona fide only if the lease or tenancy requires the receipt of rent that is not substantially less than fair market rent for the property.
In conclusion, the court determined that “quid pro quo” or barter arrangements do not constitute receipt of rent under the PTFA or Connecticut General Statute 47a-1(h). Since it was admitted by the defendants that rent was never paid, the defendants cannot qualify for the protections of the PTFA.
© Copyright 2013 USFN. All rights reserved.