Page 1

Property Manager Pushes for More Education… Starts New Group

Screening Tenants is Getting Harder… Why? Proposed Ordinance Could Collapse Hartford’s Real Estate Market

October 2019

Published by:


FEATURED ARTICLES Publisher’s Message: CTPOA Moving Into Downtown Waterbury Storefront


New Ct Meet-up Group for Property Managers Ridgefield Manager Wants To Spread Education


Tenant Screening Laws Are Changing


Can Connecticut Be Next? Discrimination is illegal… or is it?

Does Harvad Lawsuit Have Real Estate Implications? Norwich Public Utilities Security Deposit Policy

19 22

Is It Unfair?...Local realtor Speaks Out


Hartford Proposes “Punitive� Housing Ordinance 14 Good Landlords Concerned


Publisher’s Message “Helping Property Owners Since 1994” - Bob De Cosmo, President CTPOA …Moving Into Waterbury Storefront Bob De Cosmo began purchasing and managing rental real estate in 1982 and is a strong advocate for private property ownership right's in Connecticut.

Published by CTPOA Our goals; Educate our members on “Best Practices” for maximum efficiency Increase profitability by lowering operating expenses via vendor discounts Provide access to “Core Services” needed to better manage and maintain properties

Our Team: Carmine DeCosmo Jonathan DeCosmo Paul Jenney

Outreach to new buyers planned In a “Go Big…or Go Home” move, CTPOA has decided to step and expand. Permits pulled and renovation work underway, CTPOA is moving into a new storefront office located at 77 Bank Street in Waterbury. The property is a historic building built by the family of movie actress Rosalind Russell. The building is slated to undergo a major renovation early next year. The office will be a shared services arrangement between, CTPOA, the Waterbury Neighborhood Council and Elite Property Management and we expect the new office will be ready before the end of the year. The office features a large conference room that can accommodate about 40 as well as workspaces and a reception area. We decided to make the move to help the Waterbury Neighborhood Council in its efforts to revive the city’s neighborhoods. The Neighborhood Council is extremely grateful to Thomaston Savings Bank that donated all the workstations for the new office.


CTPOA has a lot of databases, tools and technology that it can share with the Council. We will also be looking to add staff next. Once fully moved into the new facility, we will begin outreaching to everyone buying a new home in the city. There will be a “Welcome to Waterbury” package for these new buyers. This creates a great opportunity for local vendors to highlight their services to new customers, kind of like the old “Welcome Wagon” program that was very popular years back. The plan includes networking with the Greater Waterbury Board of Realtors and its members to help contact the new buyers and inform them of the neighborhood associations that exist around the city.

It’s an effort to bring people together in the community and hopefully work with the city in tandem to facilitate the delivery of resources in a targeted fashion to specific streets and neighborhoods. The goal is to make the residents more selfreliant and independent and thus less dependent on government. This role will be the responsibility of the Front Porch Program that has been revived recently. If this is successful in Waterbury, this effort can be duplicated in other cities, talks are already occurring with Mayors in two other towns.


Midstate Association of Realtors Host Affiliate Members Event The Mid-State Association of Realtors recently held an affiliate night at Nuchies Restaurant in Bristol on Tuesday October 1. In attendance where business partners from the Mortgage Industry and Banks, along with Photographers, Attorneys and others participated in the event as well as SmartMLS, CTR and Tenant Tracks. More than 75 Mid-State Members and guests stopped by the Happy Hour event to talk to the affiliates and to enter a lot of great raffles being held by the Affiliates. Norcom Mortgage had a very popular ring toss game for bottles of wine.

All the Realtor Members that came by had score cards stamped by the affiliate members and they were entered into a raffle to win a pair of tickets to the CTR Concert for Recovery featuring Keith Urban. Our lucky winner for the night was Susan Gavronski from SalCal Real Estate Connections in New Britain. She is super excited to see her “boyfriend” perform at Mohegan Sun Arena in November. Mid-State Association President Sharon Rinaldi said “It was a great night, with lots of good information being received by a good turnout of Realtor Members. Our Association’s affiliate members are so important to us and we are happy to be able to put on an event to showcase all of them.” 6


New CT Meet-up Group� for Professional Property Managers By Adrianne Angel

Being in the Property Management industry for 15 years, I was fortunate to

have a knowledgeable mentor who trusted me enough to teach me the business. Most people do not aspire to be a Property Manager and they either fall into the profession by accident or are recruited by a company.

I have a lot of clients ask; what do I get for the management fee I pay you? It is hard to explain what the day of a Property Manager is like because we wear so many different hats and every day is different. Our activities include rent collection, maintenance coordination, bookkeeping, legal notices, tenant lease violations, screening applicants, inspections, financial reporting, negotiating, showing units and much, much more. Tenants usually only call us when they are upset and many times, we are in a nowin situation. For example, a tenant gets mad when something breaks in their apartment, and our Client gets mad that they have to pay for something that broke and oftentimes, the tenant caused the damage but that’s a whole other topic! There is not a lot of readily available support or education provided in Connecticut that focuses on how to be a good Property Manager. Unfortunately, too many Property Managers learned the business the hard way. Property Managers that operating without the proper guidance, knowledge, a real estate license and business insurance often make a lot of mistakes. These mistakes harm the reputation of the real professionals in the industry. Due to fear and maybe a bad experience with an unlicensed business, many Landlords are deciding to manage their own rentals without realizing the liability, stress and time involved that could be better spent growing their investment portfolio or spending more leisure time with their family.


As a Real Estate Broker, I am passionate about learning and sharing my experiences with other Professional Property Managers to hopefully improve the overall Property Management reputation in the industry and increase the number of rental properties that are being professionally managed. This will also help eliminate the unfortunate slumlord perception that our industry has gained due to many inexperienced, self-managing Landlords that have neither not having the time or knowledge to properly run their units and follow the Landlord/Tenant laws. Property Management is an extremely complicated business and we must stay abreast of constantly changing laws and market trends while constantly dealing with the day to day challenges of managing people and buildings.

help support each other. There is enough business for everyone if we stay open to sharing information and being ethical with our business practices. Our goal is to provide local education and networking opportunities to improve the reputation for Property Management companies and help them grow their businesses while helping our clients maximize revenue and reducing their stress. The next meet-up for the CT Professional Property Managers is on November 15 at 10:30AM in Suite 107, 57 Dodge Avenue in North Haven. If you are a licensed Property Management Company and want more information, or wish to attend the November meeting, please contact Adrianne Angel at 203-909-6333.

A few of years ago, I joined the National Adrianne Angel and Paul Dupervil Association of Residential Property Man- attending a Door Grow event. agers (NARPM) because I was looking for educational opportunities to improve the service my company provides to our clients. Since then I have learned many new things that I wish I knew when I started my business a decade ago. What I received from participating with NARPM was much needed education and great networking opportunities with other members, the experience was priceless. Property Managers, especially in the northeast are known for not wanting to play nice with others, but that only hurts the industry so I set out to prove we can work together and still be successful. reached out to all other NARPM members in Connecticut and we started a meetup group to continue the collaboration and


Tenant Screening Laws are Changing

By: Paul Jenney, Compliance Officer Tenant Tracks

Waterbury CT 0670

P.O. BOX 4795

Property Owners Are Being Disadvantaged However, thanks to the work of the Connecticut Property Owners Association, not in Connecticut. Our neighbors to the north in Massachusetts have just cause eviction pending, and various rent control and condo conversion ordinances, of which one passed in Somerville which is basically ‘cash for keys’ except that you’re paying them to move out of YOUR PROPERTY so YOU can sell it. So much for property owners rights or that pesky document called the United States Constitution. Still, it helps to be apprised of what has been happening over the last few years, what is pending across the nation and what YOU can do now to be proactive to avoid Fair Housing complaints and filling vacancies with the best qualified resident. Federal Regulations

HUD of course limited the use of arrest records in 2016 as part of sweeping changes to tenant selection, but as you have read before you can still use them, you simply have to do a better investigation into the nature, scope and applicability of them. Additionally, HUD is limiting the usage of even conviction records, unless it directly impacts housing. While there is no case law on the matter yet, expect it to continue. Portland OR What’s called the “Fair Access In Renting” ordinance creates a first-come-first-served system for rental applications, prioritizes accessible units for people with disabilities, caps the income-to-rent ratio landlords can require of their tenants, and places some limits on the use of credit and criminal histories as criteria for denying a person’s rental application. You cannot also refuse to rent to ANYONE with a credit score over 500 (even if you have an A property with a 2000/month rent where normally you’d require a 700 or better, as well as encouraged to use a standard set of screening criteria. According to those criteria, applicants sentenced for a felony conviction more than seven years prior or sentenced for a misdemeanor more than three years prior would not be denied. Participation in a diversion program, expunged convictions and juvenile justice system proceedings would also not be reasons for denial. 10

New York Among the highlights in New York (and more specifically New York City’s rent control laws) were these items. Application fees, including fees for a background check, are now limited to $20. Tenants who were seen as troublemakers by landlords — perhaps for standing up for their rights — would sometimes end up on blacklists that would be shared among rental agencies. That practice would be banned, prohibiting landlords from discriminating based on a tenant’s history in housing court. Other states, including California and Illinois, have experimented with other solutions, like having certain housing court records automatically sealed. Elsewhere Colorado and Oregon (HB19-1106 and SB 970) have both successfully passed bills involving criminal records, while Nevada passed a bill (AB 266) targeting eviction records. Massachusetts’ bill involving eviction records is still pending as well. California and Illinois joined Connecticut in having proposed bills under this trend, but those bills have failed as well. What to do? Best practices is to have a “tenant selection plan” in place, whether for all your properties, or one for each property, especially if they vary in type (A, B, or C), city, vastly disparate rents, or other items that make differing criteria an essential business practice. Ideally, your tenant selection plan will be your guide to picking the first tenant that meets your criteria (see the Portland law above), uses selection criteria which protects your investment, and the other residents, yet does not have bright line standards or biases that are or can be perceived as discriminatory. TenantTracks staff would be happy to review your selection plan for items such as criminal records, rental history and tenant history, but as always, please have your attorney review it as well. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at




Hartford Proposes Punitive Housing Ordinance Could Hartford become the next Detroit? Hartford Mayor Luke A. Bronin and the city Council are entertaining sweeping changes to their local housing ordinance that if allowed into law will be catastrophic according to the local landlords we spoke with. Their concern is the ordinance will lead to a housing market collapse and that would put the final nails in that city’s coffin and force Hartford into bankruptcy and probable State takeover. Would this new ordinance be this negative,? “Absolutely,” says CTPOA president Bob De Cosmo and he urges the city to abandon its plan and instead bring in real estate professionals and solve the problem without being punitive. So, let’s face facts, every city has bad tenants and bad landlords. We always hear about bad landlords but very little is said about bad tenants! If you think about the math, there are far more bad tenants in cities than bad landlords, maybe 10 to 1 if not more and destructive and bad tenants are not being mentioned enough in this new ordinance.

Why this ordinance is not needed. Every city currently has enough legal tools to deal with blighted property and non-compliant property owners. If they fail to use these tools, shame on them. The tools we speak of include the Nuisance Abatement laws that come into play anytime there are 3 or more arrests at a property…3 or more! That’s not too high of a bar to jump over and force a bad landlord into program overseen by the office of the Chief State’s Attorney. They can order landlords to make changes to their property, evict tenants, install security cameras and become code compliant or face a wrath of negative consequences. Next there are Fire Codes, Building Codes, Zoning codes and blight ordinances enough to put a good landlord in jail, let alone a bad landlord

Why cities choose not to use these tools is really puzzling, it’s as if they like to talk about problems instead of solving problems! The best tool for a city is the “Clean and Lien” statutes that permit the city to go into a property and clean it up or make emergency repairs. After the work is done, they bill the owner of record and if the owner refuses to cooperate and pay, after 30 days, the city can file a lien and then begin foreclosure action if the lien remains unpaid for a period of time. The Clean and Lien ordinance creates a “Superior Lien” that jumps ahead of the bank’s mortgage, so the city is all be assured of getting paid to fix problem properties by the owner or the bank holding the mortgage on the property.


There are political consequences. Attacking rental Requiring Certificates of Occupancy every time property owners in mass isn’t always a good idea. The an apartment is turned over is impossible. The former Mayor of New Britain did such a thing when he tried to force a landlord licensing fee in that city. CTPOA was there in 2012 and 2013 and filed a lawsuit to stop the program from being enacted and then helped local landlords organize and coordinate with their good tenants to oppose that licensing fee. When the next election came around, they worked together and ousted that Mayor and most of the City Council.

Hartford’s housing market is distressed, in fact, the Commercial Record just cited that the number of renter households in the Hartford area dropped from 146,906 in 2017 to 145,669 in 2018. By contrast, the number of renter households in New Haven grew from 115,277 to 123,371 between 2017 and 2018. Landlords are already losing tenants and raising operating costs will raise rents further and drive more people away from that city.

city lacks the resources to operate this in any timely fashion and this will cause irreparable harm and damage to landlords. Owners can’t afford to wait for the city to schedule an inspection when a tenant wants to move in tomorrow. These requirements have been successfully challenged in federal Court and we predict the city will find itself there if they try to move this forward.

The city is talking about fining landlords if 5 or more This proposal will cripple the Hartford Housing calls for police activity occur. Across the country we market and local Economy. Banks will not lend money hear; “If you see something, say something, call 9-1-1” … but now people in Hartford will say, “See in Hartford. Despite laws against discretionary lending aka “Red-lining” banks will not put their money at risk something, say nothing, DO NOT call 9-1-1 when the city can stop or divert rental payments and because in Hartford you can be fined!” Law enforceforce owners out of business with this new policy. With- ment is against these ordinances as is most everyone out a source of capitol to create an efficient market, else. Also, there was a case in Pennsylvania that had a housing prices will drop. similar 9-1-1 Ordinance and the town was sued and lost the case because a neighbor heard a woman being Local homeowners will flee as multi-family values beaten next-door but did not call out of fear of being plummet, the tax burden needs to be shifted to another penalized. New Britain also tried to enact such a thing class of properties. Hartford already has the highest tax and fortunately that ordinance was removed from mill-rate in the State and many businesses have already their books right after the former mayor was removed left so the single-family owners will bear the cost and from office. move out creating more absentee properties in a town that is plagued by already low homeownership rates. Local mom and pops will leave the market and sell their properties to larger absentee landlords who The ordinance is a disguised tax on landlords will refuse to comply with the ordinance and literally and Is illegal in Connecticut. Licensing schemes have will intimidate the city into backing off from them. It’s been tried by cities in the past and the supply a service happened in other cities and Hartford can ill afford to (inspection) in exchange for the licensing fee. In alienate its local property owners who do try to take Hartford the new ordinance requires a Certificate of Oc- care of their buildings. If these policies are enacted, locupancy Inspection ($75) every time an apartment turns cal small landlords usually have full time jobs and canover and a lead inspection ($100) before a license can not deal with all the added bureaucracy this ordinance be issued so they are already getting services, the lirequires, they will simply sell. Trust us, cities do better cense fee becomes an illegal tax and will be challenged with local owners than out of State absentee landlords in court. that will gobble these properties up quickly…this is an unseen consequence of the ordinance and is very bad. 15

This becomes a tax against poor tenants. Let’s talk about reality, if the price of ground beef increases and you sell hamburgers for a living, you must raise the cost of a hamburger. These new inspections, fees and fines will force landlords to raise rents, that many renters can ill afford to pay. Good landlords want to help good tenants. There are unspoken political consequences if politicians force good landlords to raise rents on good tenants. The list goes on and on why this is just not a good idea. We have already been

contacted to see if we would repeat what we did in New Britain and file a lawsuit against Hartford. My response is that we are honestly exploring that option but prefer to meet with the city officials and see how we can target their problem properties and problem owners and effectively help them without dropping an atomic bomb on the Hartford rental property market.

We need to move quickly here, there is a scheduled vote on Tueasday October 16th on this policy. Let’s advert a housing disaster before it occurs ….AND ASK THE COUNCIL TO DELAY THE VOTE. Hartford and its residents can ill afford this type of anti-business thinking! Please Contact the Hartford Council Members TO DELAY THIS VOTE…. Explain this Is not a good idea for the city or its residents

Glendowlyn L. H. Thames Wildaliz Bermúdez

Council President Minority Leader

(860) 757-9574 (860) 757-9579

James "Jimmy" Sánchez

Majority Leader

(860) 757-9576

John Q. Gale

Assistant Majority Leader Councilman

(860) 757-9575

(860) 757-9571

(860) 757-9563

Larry Deutsch

Assistant to Councilman Clarke II Councilman

(860) 757-9577

rJo Winch


(860) 757-9573

Claudine Fox

Councilwoman (Working Families Party) Councilwoman (Democrat) Front Desk

(860) 757-9578

(860) 757-9572

Thomas J. Clarke II Kevin Murray

Maly Rosado Main Number

(860) 757-9560



Discrimination Is Illegal, Unless…... By: Bob DeCosmo


been hammered for years into the brains of housing professionals that discrimination is illegal. It’s been that way for 50 plus years since the Civil Rights Act became law in 1964. However, a recent court ruling may have turned the Civil Rights Act upside down, inside out and on its head when Federal Judge Allison Burroughs ruled in a case concerning Harvard University’s admission policy that “Race conscious admissions will always penalize to some extent the groups that are not being advantaged by the process, but this is justified by the compelling interest in diversity and all the benefits that flow from a diverse college population.” This was the judge’s decision in what could potentially become a landmark decision involving Harvard University and a group of Asian American students who had better academic qualifications but where denied admissions by Harvard and claimed they were discriminated against. Policies created for diversity may be well-intended but whom do they benefit? Some suggest we should not constantly talk about diversity today, but instead we should be seeking ways to create unity. We need to bring all people together and stop dwelling on what sets us apart as humans but rather, what draws us together. Judge Burroughs went on to explain, “Asian American applicants’ disproportionate strength in academics comes at the expense of other skills and traits that Harvard values.” Was she referring that Harvard needs to recruit athletic types over 6 feet tall to play in their basketball program? Some of these high-school kids might not be able to read, write or add, but they can dunk a basketball…congrats, you’re accepted to Harvard, just make an “X” here on the line saying you accept our scholarship! During the trial, it was discovered that in fact Harvard favored certain types of students in the application process which will raise future questions. 18

Judge Burroughs recent decision is most likely heading to the Supreme, but are there housing implications? Would it be fair to discriminate against a rental applicant because doing so has a broader benefit to the existing tenants in a property? Can someone argue that based upon the cultural, music or food preferences its best not to have a diverse tenant-mix in a property? Some say people prefer to live with their own ethnic and racial peers so they can continue to on with the customs they grew up with. They want to hear the music they like and forcing them to live next-door to a neighbor whose music might be very different and thus offensive to them, could that be grounds to deny an applicant, or what about the smell of certain foods cooking? Ethnic delicacies loved by some might be considered disgusting and revolting to others. Does this now constitute a broader good by renting only to rental applicants that would limit potential conicts between neighbors? This Court decision may create a slippery slope as it says basically that discrimination is OK when it serves a broader purpose and good. For now we’ll see what develops but in CT Housing Discrimination is illegal and for everyone

buying a multi-family, make sure you receive and understand the rules regarding housing discrimination, a copy of the Discrimination Disclosure Form follows.



2020 CT Fair Market Rents The FY 2020 Connecticut FMR Summary

Final FY2020 Connecticut FMR Metropolitan Area Summary

Metropolitan Area Name

Two- ThreeOneEfficiency BedBedBedroom room room


FMR Percentile

Bridgeport, CT HUD Metro FMR Area



$1,346 $1,706



Colchester-Lebanon, CT HUD Metro FMR Area



$1,232 $1,777



Danbury, CT HUD Metro FMR Area



$1,749 $2,187



Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT HUD Metro FMR Area



$1,230 $1,533



Milford-Ansonia-Seymour, CT HUD Metro FMR Area



$1,376 $1,715



New Haven-Meriden, CT HUD Metro FMR Area



$1,407 $1,775



Norwich-New London, CT HUD Metro FMR Area



$1,191 $1,542



Southern Middlesex County, CT HUD Metro FMR Area



$1,449 $2,090



Stamford-Norwalk, CT HUD Metro FMR Area



$2,079 $2,616



Waterbury, CT HUD Metro FMR Area



$1,119 $1,394



Windham County, CT HUD Metro FMR Area



$1,020 $1,304




“Providing legal services to our client’s in a cost

effective and timely manner, while maintaining the highest ethical and professional standards is the cornerstone of my firm.”

Real Estate Law

Mortgage Refinancing


Tenant Evictions

212A New London Turnpike, Glastonbury, CT 06033 (860) 633-5263


Local real estate agent calls NPU security deposit policy unfair Leo Chomen, (pictured below) is a concerned Realtor that does many apartment rentals each month for his clients has become concerned about the security deposits being charged by Norwich Public Utilities for their customers. Mr. Chomen has activated several other concerned landlords about what is transpiring. Here is a recent story that appeared in the Norwich Bulletin about this matter. By John Barry (860) 425-4221 NORWICH - A local real estate agent has asked for a change to a Norwich Public Utilities policy that requires security deposits from some residential customers. Leo Chomen, with Randall Realtors, spoke Tuesday at a meeting of the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners. The board oversees the city-owned utility. Chomen said that for about the past two years, landlords in Norwich, including many who pay their bills on time and have good credit, have been required to pay deposits when tenants leave in order to keep the utilities on while they’re finding new tenants. 23

In the case of sewer and water deposits, Chomen said, landlords don’t get them back until they sell the building. Recently, he said, tenants have been hit with the security deposit requirement as well. Chomen cited the case of two people in the Coast Guard with excellent credit ratings who were required to pay security deposits before their utilities could be turned on. “We’re punishing good people with good credit, and that’s not what we want to do,” he said. Commissioner Michael Goldblatt said he agreed with Chomen that those who pay their bills shouldn’t owe deposits. “We’re a monopoly. People have to have us,” Goldblatt said, noting that the utility is part of Norwich’s government and not a for-profit business. “If we can’t take a chance with $100 a month customers, something is wrong.” Information provided by NPU spokesman Chris Riley said that the utility requires onemonth security deposits for “residential customers with a poor payment history” or who don’t have a record of a payment history. record of a payment history. NPU’s statement emphasized that the service used by NPU “provides information on utility payment history and is not related to the credit rating of a customer.” Three-month deposits are required for those who have worse payment histories, such as having their utilities disconnected for nonpayment, owing more than $500, having gotten five or more termination notices in the past two years or having been involved with meter tampering or stealing service. Chomen said he supports having NPU require deposits for landlords and tenants who don’t pay their bills. “I don’t want you guys at risk. Go after the bad guys,” he said. “We aren’t alone in charging deposits,” NPU General Manager Chris LaRose said, noting landlords themselves charge them. LaRose proposed and board members agreed to have NPU Customer Service Manager Jeff Brining “do a deep dive” into the issue and report back at the board’s meeting in October. He also promised to have Brining attend the Oct. 2 meeting of the Norwich Property Owners Association. “We don’t want to harm the good guys, but we don’t want everybody’s bills to go up,” because some customers didn’t pay theirs, LaRose said.



A special thank you to our participating REALTOR Boards for circulating CT Real Estate Today to their members.



CT Real Estate Today allows you to hit your target audience for all things real estate.

Contact us at



The Connectic of experienced p working together



me a CTPOA Member Visit:

cut Property Owners Alliance is composed property managers, REALTORS and landlords to improve the business conditions for rental

llow CTPOA:


Profile for CT Real Estate Today

CT Real Estate Today October Issue  

October Issue, Real Estate Today. Articles Include, Real Estate proposals in Hartford Connecticut, Tenant Screening, Property Management.

CT Real Estate Today October Issue  

October Issue, Real Estate Today. Articles Include, Real Estate proposals in Hartford Connecticut, Tenant Screening, Property Management.

Profile for ctpoa