This victory for tenants in Connecticut is not the first, and it will not be the last, but it is a monumental achievement for the Seramonte Tenants Union, built on a year of organizing and won by the tenants themselves. Solidarity forever for the tenants union makes us strong! ✊🌹🏙


For Immediate Release

Date: Thursday, October 20th, 2022
Contact: (860) 756-0257‬ or CTtenantsunion@gmail.com

HAMDEN FAIR RENT COMMISSION DECIDES IN FAVOR OF SERAMONTE TENANT UNION MEMBERS AGAINST LANDLORD RENT HIKES

[HAMDEN, CT] – On Wednesday, October 19, 2022, the Fair Rent Commission (FRC) for the town of Hamden, Connecticut ruled in favor of three Seramonte Tenant Union members against proposed rent hikes by their landlord, Northpoint Management.

Three tenants, one of whom required Spanish interpretation, testified before the Commission with representation from Connecticut Tenants Union. All three tenants described the poor conditions for tenants at Seramonte, including general disrepair, mold, lack of heat, and unmonitored fire alarms that could be heard beeping in the background during testimonies– a significant concern given a history of deadly fires at the complex.

The three tenants with cases addressed on Wednesday saw proposed monthly rent increases from their landlord of $800, $400, and $350, respectively. For two of those tenants, such increases would have put their monthly rent expenditure above 50% of their monthly income, which HUD describes as being “severely rent burdened.”

Tenants also repeatedly expressed a fear of being “forced out” by rent hikes or lease nonrenewal if they submitted too many maintenance requests or otherwise spoke out about their conditions. Northpoint landlord Zvi “Harry” Horowitz and management staff testified that they would not retaliate against tenants for maintenance requests or FRC complaints, a commitment we expect Hamden’s FRC to hold them to as outlined in state and municipal statutes.

Hamden’s Fair Rent Commission ruled unanimously in favor of the tenants in all three cases, freezing rents for 12 months at the rates set by their most recent leases. Although the landlord’s counsel attempted to argue that a “market rate” for the apartments in question would be significantly higher, to quote commissioner Pete Cunningham, “we [the FRC] are a check on the market.”

Connecticut Tenants Union expresses its strong agreement with the decision of the Hamden Fair Rent Commission, and encourages all municipalities that are working towards adherence with recent state law mandating Fair Rent Commissions to follow their lead in taking the courageous step of freezing and lowering unconscionable rent hikes on working-class tenants.

This victory would not have been possible without the bravery and courage of Seramonte tenants, who organized their neighbors to demand action from their landlord and the town. To quote a tenant leader whose case was ruled in her favor: “Somos fuertes – we are strong!”

Although we continue to fight for a world where housing is a human right and not a commodity to be speculated on, this victory is a landmark achievement in the struggle for tenants rights, here in Connecticut and in the nation. We look forward to representing more tenants organizing with the Seramonte Tenants Union and elsewhere across the state.