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Hartford creates housing task force to handle absentee landlords

Hartford Mayor Arunan Arulampalam speaking about his new housing task force at city hall in Hartford, Connecticut February 20, 2024.
Abigail Brone
Connecticut Public
Hartford Mayor Arunan Arulampalam speaking about his new housing task force at city hall in Hartford, Connecticut February 20, 2024.

The city of Hartford is funding new ways to crack down on absentee landlords.

Hartford Mayor Arunan Arulampalam submitted a city council resolution to increase daily blight fees from $100 to $250.

“If keeping residents in substandard conditions in our city is merely the cost of doing business for you, we're going to make it a lot more expensive to do business in the city of Hartford,” Arulampalam said.

It’s part of Hartford's latest effort to penalize landlords who own unsafe and unsanitary properties.

Along with increased fines, the city established a housing task force, consisting of law enforcement, social service and building officials.

The task force’s goal is to identify property owners, many of whom aren’t located in Connecticut, who have consistent code violations. The aim is to create new ways to tackle their noncompliance, Arulampalam said. A list of repeat offenders will be made public in the coming months.

“A lot of these properties that are owned in poor condition are owned by LLCs,” Arulampalam said.

The LLC structure makes it more difficult to determine who is in charge of the building, he said.

“It takes a little bit of research, and we want to make sure it's a really comprehensive list,” Arulampalam said.

It will hone in on a list of specific landlords whose properties are in disarray, Hartford inspections director Judith Rothschild said.

“We will focus our energy, our personnel, our resources on those bad landlords in the city of Hartford, that deserves the focus based on their failures, their failures to respond to complaints, to emergencies, to conditions that are far below our minimum standards of decent, safe and sanitary housing, we mean business,” Rothschild said.

Many of the problem landlords are already known to Hartford officials, but compiling them in a database to be addressed by a specific task force will streamline addressing the issue, Rothschild said.

“We have a number of properties that are in distress, and that many of those properties are owned by the exact same people,” Rothschild said. “Most of the problem landlords that we know have already come to our attention, because your tenants call us when you do not respond, and we do respond, and we will respond with you as well.”

Abigail is Connecticut Public's housing reporter, covering statewide housing developments and issues, with an emphasis on Fairfield County communities. She received her master's from Columbia University in 2020 and graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2019. Abigail previously covered statewide transportation and the city of Norwalk for Hearst Connecticut Media. She loves all things Disney and cats.

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