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Kendzierski v. Goodson

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

May 8, 1990

Stanley KENDZIERSKI
v.
Loretta GOODSON.

Argued Dec. 19, 1989.

Shelley White, with whom, on the brief, was Charisse E. Hutton, for appellant (defendant).

George R. Temple, with whom, on the brief, was Sean Orion Lebas, Ansonia, for appellee (plaintiff).

Before BORDEN, SPALLONE and NORCOTT, JJ.

[21 Conn.App. 425] BORDEN, Judge.

In this summary process action, the defendant tenant appeals from the judgment awarding possession to the plaintiff landlord. The defendant claims that the court erred in failing to require the plaintiff to demonstrate a good faith desire for a higher rent sufficient to constitute good cause for purposes of terminating the defendant's

Page 250

federally subsidized § 8 tenancy. [1] We find no error.

In 1980, the plaintiff rented a four bedroom apartment in Ansonia to the defendant for a monthly rent [21 Conn.App. 426] of $260, which had increased to $293 per month by the time of this action. In 1985, the plaintiff and the defendant entered the § 8 federal rent subsidy program, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1437f and 24 C.F.R., ch. VIII. At that time, the parties executed a written lease for the rental of the apartment. An accompanying § 8 housing assistance payments contract was executed between the plaintiff and the Ansonia housing authority (authority). The lease, which began on July 1, 1985, had no set termination date. Instead, it provided for termination according to the provisions for terminating § 8 tenancies under the applicable federal statutes and regulations.

Under the § 8 program, the total rent for a particular unit is based on a schedule of fair market rents for the locality; 24 C.F.R. § 882.106; and a landlord's termination rights are subject to 42 U.S.C. § 1437f [2] and 24 C.F.R. § 882.215. A landlord may terminate a § 8 tenancy for various reasons that constitute "good cause"; 24 C.F.R. § 882.215(c)(1)(iii); including a "desire to rent the unit at a higher rental." 24 C.F.R. § 882.215(c)(2). [3]

The plaintiff brought this action to terminate the defendant's tenancy on the ground that he desired to rent the apartment at a higher rent. The trial court found that, although the apartment was classified as a four bedroom unit under the § 8 program, the defendant[21 Conn.App. 427] could receive a rent subsidy only on the basis of a one bedroom apartment because she was a single person who lived alone. There was evidence that the fair rental value of the apartment was between $600 and $700 per month. The court also found that, under the § 8 program, the rent subsidy was $420 for a one bedroom apartment, and $668 for a four bedroom apartment, and that "[t]he evidence of the plaintiff's desire for a higher rent was overwhelming." The court rendered judgment for the plaintiff. This appeal followed.

The defendant's claim that the court erred by rendering judgment for the plaintiff is in two parts: (1) the court ignored the federal good cause requirement for termination; and (2) the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that his stated desire for a higher rent was held in "good faith." We disagree.

We reject the defendant's argument that the court ignored the good cause requirement for termination. The principal issue at trial was whether the plaintiff met the good cause requirement as provided in the lease and the federal regulation. That issue was vigorously argued throughout the trial and in the oral arguments following the evidence. The court rendered judgment orally from the bench after the oral arguments, and filed an articulation of its ruling thereafter. Although the court did not explicitly use the term "good cause," it is clear, from the context of the court's ruling and from its specific finding that the plaintiff proved a desire for a higher rent, that its decision was based on the good cause requirement.

The defendant's argument in this respect is based on several remarks made by the

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court in the course of certain colloquies with the defendant's counsel during the proceedings. Those comments arguably indicated that the court erroneously perceived the legal status between the parties to be that of a conventional [21 Conn.App. 428] landlord-tenant relationship unencumbered by the additional rights and duties arising out of § 8. The defendant has not demonstrated, however, that any such misperception formed the basis of the court's ultimate decision.

With respect to the defendant's second argument, namely, that the plaintiff failed to prove a "good faith" desire for a higher rent, we agree that 24 C.F.R. ยง 882.215(c)(1)(iii) requires the landlord's desire for a higher rent to be held in good faith. In this case, however, the record ...


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