WESTBROOK, CT (WFSB) – Connecticut’s moratorium on evictions has ended.
The measure has helped many families, but it also devastated hundreds of homeowners who had filed eviction documents long before the pandemic.
Channel 3 met a family in Westbrook last year, who say they’ll likely never get back what they lost.
The Dunn family can once again enjoy their beautiful waterfront home. It’s a lot more relaxing there now than it was last summer when they were in the middle of a crisis.
“It is heartbreaking to come here because the emotion it brings to my wife is devastating,” said Jeffrey Dunn.
He explained that in January 2020, weeks before the pandemic, his tenants Robert and Faith Maura, who were staying in another house Dunn owned a few steps away, told him they would simply not be paying rent anymore. in the future and that they hadn’t planned to leave anytime soon.
Heads of state have closed housing courts over security concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the governor recently imposed a moratorium on evictions until next year. However, some attorneys and homeowners have said these decisions have created an explosive combination that is costly and possibly even dangerous.
“I don’t know how anyone could be like that. I’ve never met people who could do something like this, ”Dunn said.
After their story aired on Channel 3, the community rallied around the Dunn family.
“I think everyone in the state saw it because every time I walked down the street here, everyone would say ‘hey, I saw you on TV’,” Dunn explained. .
Support was nice, but didn’t fix the problem. The Dunns were about to have a long fight because the Mauras had already. Court records show that in 2019 alone, the family were evicted from two more homes in Westbrook after their landlords said they had just stopped paying rent.
They got the boot of the first house in February 2019, and in April a second owner brought them to justice / They were evicted from that house in October, and soon after they moved into the house of Dunn, stopped paying the rent after a few months and rubbed Jeffrey’s nose in it.
“He told me bluntly that because he had done it so many times before, he said ‘I’m staying here until the sheriff comes and takes me out’ because he knows he can. stay there that long. The laws protect them, ”Dunn said.
Unfortunately, that was true, in large part because of the coronavirus. The eviction moratorium just expired at the end of the month for COVID cases, and even homeowners who filed eviction documents before the pandemic did not fare much better.
The Maura did not have the boot until February.
“It’s about $ 60,000 between the winter rental and the summer rental that has been lost. Over 14 months, ”Dunn said.
He adds that he blames himself for doing what turned out to be a costly mistake. He rented to the Mauras without doing a background check, a misjudgment his family will never make again.
Now he’s warning other owners to go beyond to protect themselves.
“What I would have done is I would have insisted on three references, previous owner references, a credit check, a background check, whatever we do now,” he said. .
Dunn adds that the state is also lagging behind.
Even in normal times, the deportation process can take almost a year even with people like the Maura going through it over and over again.
“Something has to be done to protect owners from such people. Repeat offenders, ”he said.
He added that he’s happy that at least now his neighbors are watching him feature in a story with a happier ending.
Channel 3 tried to contact the Mauras for comment, but couldn’t reach them at their new home.