The Renters Came. Their Lease Is Up. They’re Not Leaving.

The coronavirus has upended lives, created hardships and caused unintended consequences for every “06880” reader.

It’s affected every aspect of our lives: business, education, recreation. And — this being Westport — real estate.

The Vincents (not their real name) have owned a Westport home since 2013. In 2017 they headed to Europe for 2 to 5 years, on a business assignment.

A rental template — not the lease agreement for the Westport family.

They rented their Westport property on July 1, 2019. The tenants are a family of 3: father, mother, teenager. The husband is CFO and president of a Manhattan investment bank. On the rental application, he said his annual salary was over $2 million.

The tenants claimed to be in the process of building a home in Westport. A 1-year lease would work well for the Vincents, who by that point expected to return home in June 2020.

The owners noted a few unusual circumstances. The tenants initially refused to provide contact details — email, cell phone, etc. — and insisted that all communication go through their rental agent. Only at the Vincents’ insistence did they provide contact info — for the wife only.

The tenants also refused to set up direct debit for the monthly rental payment. They pay by check.

The tenants did not move into the house until late August. This past March — 3 1/2 months before the lease was to expire — the Vincents, out of courtesy and consideration for the COVID situation, notified the tenants of their inention to move back on July 1.

In a back-and-forth email exchange, it became clear that the renters had no intention of vacating the property. They cited the virus as the reason they could not find a new home.

They justified staying with what the Vincents call “a deliberate misrepresentation of the governor’s Executive Order of an Eviction Moratorium” — a regulation intended to prevent the eviction of tenants temporarily unable to pay rent, during the pandemic.

The Vincents say they were “given lip service that the tenants had no intention of ‘staying any longer in our house than absolutely necessary,’ and that they ‘hope to be out by the end of the summer.”

The owners were also told they “simply had to be flexible” given the unprecedented environment.

Requests for further communication of a firm moving date — even an inspection request after an $800 boiler repair — were flatly rejected.

Though the tenants cited coronavirus concerns as a reason for staying, the Vincents have photos showing them mingling in town, attending social gatherings and watching youth sports events — all without masks or social distancing.

In order to plan for their own move back to Westport, the owners offered a 12-month lease extension to the tenants. The Vincents would look for their own year-long rental — from a continent away — just to have certainty themselves, and accommodate their renters’ concerns.

The offer went unanswered.

Since May, communication has been solely through attorneys. Requests for updates were repeatedly rebuffed, and were described as causing the tenants “stress.”

In July, the Vincents learned that the tenants continue to use the owners’ home as the renters’ residency address. The Vincents told the school district that they were waiting to commence eviction proceedings.

The renters then provided the school with a lease on a new property, beginning September 1. Through their attorney, the Vincents asked the tenants to verify the new lease and timeline for moving. Three times — by their lawyer and realtor — the tenants said they had not secured a new lease, and had no intention of moving.

The Vincents wonder whether the lease on the new property is fraudulent.

Last Friday, the Vincents saw the tenants at a youth baseball game in town. They approached the renters in the parking lot. They introduced themselves, and asked the renters to vacate the home or at least tell them about their moving intentions.

The tenants threatened the owners with a restraining order, and said they would do nothing unless ordered to by a court. “Even our request to simply communicate with us was flat-out refused,” the Vincents say.

The eviction moratorium is supposed to protect people adversely affected by the virus, through unemployment, financial distress or illness, say the owners. “Our tenants fall in no such category, but shamelessly take advantage that courts are shut and no other enforcement rights are available to us.”

The owners have moved into an Airbnb in Westport. They have no idea when they can move back into the home they own.

They are paying lawyers, rent on their temporary house, and storage for their belongings shipped back from Europe.

The psychological stress on them and their children is equally profound.

“People like our tenants should not be allowed to call a wonderful community like Westport home,” the Vincents say. “Our friends are shocked when they hear our story, and are offering help in whatever way possible.”

That’s a harrowing story. When and how it will end is not at all clear.

And — say they Vincents — theirs is not the only story like this. They have heard of at least one other family in Westport in similar straits.

51 responses to “The Renters Came. Their Lease Is Up. They’re Not Leaving.

  1. Though having great sympathy for the Vincents goes without saying, all the signs of trouble were up front when it became clear that the tenants did not want to be communicated with and withheld commonly given communication information…home owners less anxious for a quick rental would have walked away from that family’s rental offer.

    • Danger Will Robinson, Danger- Mr. Katz is correct, being a landlord requires scrupulous investigating potential tenants. ANY red flags are instant reasons not to rent. You put yourself and your property in Danger- literally. It’s a classic mistake to make; assuming a tenants financial ability to pay a substantial rent and their employment status is steller makes it’s OK.
      I, with 40 years of renting experience I have made the mistake 4 times by being “understanding” of a tenants issues. Each time cost me tremendous amounts of time, money, and incredible stress. Here in the La La Land of Westport, we have an additional concern; a large population of highly paid & respected “captains of industry” and as one realtor pointed out to me ” people at the top of their game” which you would assume is a buffer of respectability. If you subscribe to that illusion I’d suggest you Google “are leaders in business sociopaths?” Read the research. A 2010 study and a recent Forbes article will rid you of your misconceptions. If you are not a professional landlord you must rely on reports of companies that do the research for you, and always do a paid people search and look for clues of who you are allowing into your home. The one big lesson I learned is tenant rights trump your rights. The old adage you learned as a child is absolutely true- “possession is nine-tenths of the law”. Sorry to bring you such bad news and be cautious of attorneys that promise to resolve it quickly. My advice is to manage your stress level until it’s over. I sincerely wish you a swift resolution just don’t count on it.

  2. Big ouch! Court eviction cost homeowners $50,000 in Ct 40 years ago. Something meds to be changed.

    Sent from my iPhone Bobbi

    >

  3. Dr Frank E Accardi

    Renters be much more careful.
    Grifters such as these tenants should face the full public opprobrium of this community.
    Eventually ,this being a small but tightly knit town ,that is a deadline that will come soon enough.

  4. Non-performance of contract? Civil suit after they finally leave?

  5. Out the renters. Names, pics, etc. They should go on a list so future landlords can know about their shenanigans. (Obviously they’ll be in the court system nonce eviction proceedings start).

    • Then why not do the same for the March 40th birthday party partly responsible for the first wave of COVID-19 in this area? Out the hostess? Pics of her? Pics of the guests? The address of the party location?

      • Because she is an innocent person who had party when those were allowed and long before any covid 19 order. Even when the first order came, it was to limit gathering to no more than 250 people. The situations are not comparable in my mind. These people should definitely be outed and they can defend their actions in public.

        • Thanks Tom, acknowledged.

          But is Westport the town of, Social Vigilantes? ‘Social vigilantes display a particularly pernicious variety of runaway egoicism in which they are convinced that their personal views should be imposed on everyone. Just as the vigilantes of the old west believed they were acting on behalf of society as they enforced their view of the law, today’s social vigilantes believe that they are acting on behalf of society to enforce correct ways of thinking and behaving.’

          Is everyone now charging their phonies and heading out to ’round up’ these thieves. Sure seems so.

      • I have nothing against that person being outed that hosted the party. Regardless of the state/local limitation, it was absolutely ridiculous to host a party during a crisis that we have known was coming since mid-January. Just because gatherings are allowed now, doesn’t make it right, or responsible.

        • FYI: “Near & Far Aid, an organization that aims to eliminate poverty in Fairfield County, held its annual spring gala,at Mitchells in Westport on March 6, 2020.” – from the CT Post. That was the same weekend as “the party”…so maybe try to keep it all in perspective. Easy to look back and say “they should have known”….but it could have also been (and probably was already) spread from other various sources at that time, including everyone still using Metro North to commute to jobs in NYC. Just sayin….

  6. I wonder if the renters are quite fond of Dunkin Donuts…

  7. Eric Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    We underwent a similar experience on a house in Milford 30 years ago. Interesting that the renting agent and their role was only referred to peripherally. Seems to me there ought to be some exposure on that end for failure to perform a core duty such as vetting the tenants and securing complete contact information as part of the transaction. Certainly a commission was paid (in return for what?). There are probably champagne corks popping everywhere but at the Vincent’s. I would also wonder if, since the tenant claims a $2MM income, their employer might be interested in knowing about the situation. A highly paid employee certainly should be expected to perform in a manner that brings no disrespect to their employer.

  8. What a disaster- so sorry for these people, but I agree the red flags at the onset should have been heeded. I’m guessing that this man’s employment info was made up.

  9. I was starting to have trouble breathing as I went from paragraph to paragraph in the story. I was trying to put myself in the homeowners’ shoes and I was getting angry for them. Let me first say though that the homeowners were incredibly negligent in allowing the rental to go through in the first place since there were so many warning signs. But, the “squatters” that reside in the house now, while technically not fitting that term, should be
    shamed in every way possible. Yes, the Husband and Wife— Bonnie and Clyde– should be named, their Realtor should be named and the low life atty. that is doing everything that he or she can to keep them in the house should be named.
    The pandemic’s no-eviction excuse of course does not apply here. These people are just saying, “hey, we like it here, we think we’ll stay and what are you going to do about it” and since the courts aren’t tackling much at this time it seems they may get their way…..for awhile.
    The fact that the real homeowners are back in the area but can’t return to THEIR house seems insane.
    The renters are scum.

  10. Blaming the owners for ignoring the red flags really misses the point and is very unfair. The squatters are the ones to blame and the entire community should call them out. The taxpayers of Westport should not be paying for their child to attend our schools or for the family to use our parks and recreational facilities. The eviction moratorium was intended to help people who have lost their jobs and are really suffering as a result of COVID. Taking advantage of this moratorium is an insult to those who it was intended to help. The real estate market is very active in Westport and houses are being bought and sold every day. In fact the Vincents were able to secure a rental home and move in. Using COVID as an excuse to not be able to move is simply untrue and ridiculous. The courts may not be open to provide redress but the good people of Westport can help ensure justice by shaming these awful people and I hope that a civil lawsuit for damages results in some compensation for the Vincents.

  11. Cristina Negrin

    Out them and shame them out of town!

    • People like these tenants have no shame or they wouldn’t behave this way and take advantage of people good nature. Problem is…they seek out good natured and trusting individuals to abuse and take advantage of.

  12. Unfortunately, the tenants are among many who are taking advantage of programs intended to benefit those who have suffered losses from the pandemic. There are plenty of businesses that took PPP loans with no loss of revenue, for example, and plenty of people who were in foreclosure for years prior to the pandemic now benefiting from the moratorium.

    Although I do not do this type of work, I’m a lawyer and work with those who do. The reality is you always run the risk of tenants overstaying, and the eviction process almost always takes months if the tenants fight – particularly if they pay for a lawyer. There are also many “rich” charlatans out there – even if the $2m income is true, believe me that there are lots of people living paycheck to paycheck on that amount. I have much sympathy for people in this situation, but it’s all too common. As a lawyer, though, I’d say the worst advice is to publicly shame the tenants. That will almost surely escalate the conflict and the attorney’s fees. Not worth it, even though I’d be sorely tempted.

    • Bill Strittmatter

      Out of curiosity, is the risk just making it more publicly unpleasant than the situation already is, because it already sounds pretty ugly, or is the some incremental defamation (or something like that) exposure for the Vincent’s or Dan if they disclose the information? Or if someone else puts the pieces together and leaks the info?

      • I am not looking for any more legal issues. Neither are the Vincents.

      • It’s really both – people who have already demonstrated they’re not interested in honoring their legal obligations are likely to be antagonized, not cowed, by public accusations, and while any defamation or similar claim would be meritless if this is all true, that wouldn’t prevent the tenants from suing the owners thus forcing them to spend more money on lawyers.

        • John D McCarthy

          “people who have already demonstrated they’re not interested in honoring their legal obligations are likely to be antagonized, not cowed, by public accusations” Life in the age of Trump….(yes, I had to go there, too easy of a pitch to let it go by.)

      • What does the lease say? Is there a non-disclosure / confidentiality clause? If so, is it a blanket cause or expire when someone violates the terms? I wouldn’t worry too much if you are stating only facts and not inserting opinions. Each person has their own risk tolerance though and whether they are willing to stand up (even if they are 100% in the right). Also, I do have to say, the landlord should have done their own independent due diligence. It is a major red flag if the renters wouldn’t provide basic information.

    • Perhaps there should be “holdover rent” incorporated into resi leases like commercial leases have – overstay and pay 150-200% rent

  13. Can the Vincents raise the rent, such as doubling or tripling it? If the lease is for one year, and the year is up, I believe they can raise it.

    • Depends what the lease says… many include clauses about what happens at the expiration and what a “hold over” costs. Would be great to see a copy of the lease, instead of speculating.

  14. The “tenants” are probably old hands at doing this. The cheapest way to do this is give them “going away money”. It is cheaper and less taxing on the landlords well being. I have had years of experience in these matters on the government side of this equation in NY State. This is not Game of Thrones Walk of Shame. Unless you can investigate where the “tenants” have a history of doing this with nonpayment of rents etc. the district attorney’s office will tell you it’s a Civil Matter, as opposed to on going larceny. In Florida and many places throughout the country Eviction is a 72 notice, a hearing, and eviction 24 hrs after the hearing. Of course Corona Virus changes everything. A wonderful well respected friend of mine in Westport went through this years ago. To our chagrin GOING AWAY MONEY resolved it.

  15. They can be evicted for Nuisance which is exempt from the Moratorium which expires in 6 days.

    1. Send a KAPA Notice; and,

    2 After 15 days (well past expiration date of 8/25) a NTQ that states:
    Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 47a-23(a)(1)(E) AND BY HIS EXCELLENCY NED LAMONT’S EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 7DDD,¶1 (a) DATED JUNE 29, 2020 for Non-payment of rent due on or prior to February 29, 2020.

    A COPY OF EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 7DDD is attached hereto as EXHIBIT A.

    Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. Section: 47a-9, 47a-15 and 47a-32: SERIOUS NUISANCE which for the purposes of this matter is defined as any conduct that which interferes substantially with the comfort or safety of other tenants or occupants of the same or adjacent buildings or structures and material noncompliance by the tenant with the rental agreement or a material noncompliance with the rules and regulations adopted in accordance with section 47a-9, and the landlord chooses to evict based on such noncompliance, the landlord shall deliver a written notice to the tenant specifying the acts or omissions constituting the breach and that the rental agreement shall terminate upon a date not less than fifteen days after receipt of the notice.

    SEE, KAPA NOTICE PREVIOUSLY SERVED UPON TENANTS AND OCCUPANTS ATTACHED HERETO AS EXHIBIT B.

    Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 47a-23(a)(3) when one originally had the right or privilege to occupy such premises but such right or privilege has terminated.

    Lapse of time.

    So sorry to see people maliciously taking advantage of relief measures intended for the truly needy.

    • John D. McCarthy

      Loved your book. Hate the mustache.

    • "Jane" (anonymity granted)

      This I think will help me. Where is exhibit B
      Do you need a date in court for this or can it just be filed. The court is really backed up and I have 2 really good offers . See below my story.Good luck pursuing possession and occupancy of your home from your current renters.
      For three years since 2017 we have unsuccessfully tried evict the tenants from our home in Westport
      In 2017 we paid a Marshal serve our tenants notice to Quite the Premises due non payment of 3 months of rent $6250.00 .In addition rent was often late, not played in full or not paid.
      In 2017 the Notice Quite the Premises issued by a Judge was totally ignored by the tenants. Months went by and they continued to live in our home. The did not pack a box or contact us.
      For 3 years with our attorney we have appeared in court more times than I want to count. The tenants /defendants continue to be granted one after another requests for a six month stay based on everything from inability to find suitable housing, medical emergencies, holidays, unavailability to attend court, lost of income due to Covid-19 etc.
      All our rights including the ability to, take back possession of our home, live in, remodel, and sell it without the financial loss incurred by the tenants occupying our house has been denied by th State of Connecticut Superior Court. In addition we need to go to the expense and struggle to recover the $6250.00 back rent owed to us.
      We own a rental home in Westport there is no written lease in effect and the parties are under an oral month to month arrangement . Obviously has little significance legally in regards to eviction.
      The 6 month stay (remain in rental) was granted to tenants by a Judge ended in March 2020 , 3 years after tenants received a Notice to Quite the Premises.
      Due to the Covid – 19 pandemic from March until now the court has not scheduled no eviction cases. Court cases are prioritize by need . How can the government accurately evaluate need.
      The continued possession of the premises is contrary to property rights and summary process statutes as my tenants have essentially stayed an execution exponentially beyond the time allowed by statute.
      We are entitled to possession of the premises we own and factor the renters have yet not found alternative housing in all of this time is just another tactic to remain in our home.
      Our personal situation, medically, emotionally and financially has never been the courts or our tenants concern
      We need to pay for repairs and $6000 in taxes to Westport. When rent is late or not paid We can not pay our bills which in turn affects our credit score .
      We take care of our elderly parents and need to pay for food and essential medicines they can not do without.
      Our Governor needs to help and assist landlords just like he helps small businesses in this Covid crisis.
      He needs to find alternative ways for Judges to view eviction cases in addition to other housing court cases
      We are suffering significantly and it should be understood that owning this home is not a luxury but for us a vital source of income. We can not pay our taxes!

  16. How stressful. Really hard to read. As someone who gets all his legal knowledge from “Judge Judy,” I’ll just add that she sees these sorts of “squatting” and “tricky tenant” problems all the time. There are people who really do live this way, at all socioeconomic levels. They simply master all the tenant/landlord rules which, as people here have noted, usually lean in favor of the tenant, and know how to generate paperwork and manufacture delays until it’s time to move on to the next mark.

  17. Sounds like a job for Tony Soprano , and Company .. That just Sucks !!

    • Remember what Tony did when he walked away from a deal to buy a beach house, and the seller wouldn’t return his deposit?

  18. Wow. If that is what the tenants are doing, it is stealing. Pure theft.

  19. We had an experience three years ago with a potential renter. He was from the UK but worked here in the US for a bank in a high position. His family remained in the UK. He couldn’t provide any financials, nor set up automatic payment, no references. He was willing to pay six months up front. Something didn’t seem right. I googled his name and to my surprise he was finally arrested at JFK for stealing funds from this large financial institution and was being watched for months by the FBI. He was awaiting trial in NY for his jail sentence. When I contacted his real estate agent they claimed they do not do background checks. Lesson learned, we didn’t rent to him.

    • Lucky you, but the real lesson here is the higher the position the larger the crime….as we see all the time now arrogance & hubris grows with the position.

  20. This reminds me of Pacific Height, a 1990 horror film about a deadbeat tenant refusing to vacate the apartment, causing huge stress for the property owner. I feel bad for the “Vincents” and I wish them luck

  21. Unf***en believable!

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  22. Not necessarily helpful for the present situation, but here’s a preventative suggestion from someone who was assigned overseas for 4 years. In my expat agreement, the employer was responsible for all costs and liabilities of housing on both ends: my temporary housing in London and the rental of my own house in CT.

    I assume if the “Vincents” haven’t mentioned it in this story, they’ve already checked with their employment lawyer and are not protected in this way. I do suggest they appeal to their employer for help, in any event, because even if it’s not explicitly promised in writing, the employer really should step in and share the costs as they were the ones who decided to assign the employee overseas.

  23. This is outrageous!!! These holdover tenants have no rights to use our school, beach, marina or any of the services that we all pay so dearly for. The second their child steps onto a school property the parents should be arrested for theft of services. In the meantime – their behavior – and their identities will be outed. Someone out there knows their names.

  24. One other thing here that’s odd: in any standard CT lease the landlord is explicitly allowed access to inspect premises and conduct repairs. In addition, the tenant cannot change the locks without giving the tenant a copy of the new key. To avoid conflict, the landlord may chose to access the house when the tenants are away, bringing a locksmith to gain access if the locks were changed. If the tenant interferes physically, the landlord should call the police, request help and file a complaint.

  25. ""Jane" (anonymity granted)

    Good luck all our rights including recovering close to $10000. in back rent , the ability to live in or sell our rental has been denied by the. State of Connecticut Superior Court.
    Since 2017 we have unsuccessfully tried to evict the tenants from our home in Westport
    Due to $6250.00 of back rent owed to us at that time. The eviction had been approved by and granted by a Judge. The tenants recieved a notice to Quite the premises. The notice was totally ignored by the tenants .
    Since then with our attorney we have appeared in court more times than I want to count. The tenants /defendants continue to be granted one after another requests for a six month stay based on everything from inability to find suitable housing, medical emergency, unavailabity to attend court ,observance of religious holidays etc.
    We own a rental home in Westport there is no written lease in effect and the parties are under an oral month to month arrangement .
    Obviously has little significance legally.
    The 6 month stay granted to the tenant by a Judge ended in March 2020 3 years after The tenants recieved a notice to Quite the premises.
    Due to the Covid – 19 pandemic up until now no eviction cases are schedule.
    The continued possession of the premises is contrary to property rights and summary process statutes as the tenants have essentially stayed an execution exponentially beyond the time allowed by statute.
    We are entitled to possession of the premises we own and facter that the renters have yet not found alternative housing in all of this time is a lie.
    Our personal situation,medically,emotionally and financially have never been the courts or our tenants concern. Our friends also have a hard time understanding why in our democratic society this situation could occur. Our Governor needs to help and assist landlords who depend on income just like any small businesses in this Covid crisis. We can not pay our taxes! He needs to find alternative ways for Judges to view eviction cases in addition to other housing court cases
    We are suffering significantly .Additionally owning this home is not a luxury but for us a vital source of income. Additionally we pay very high taxes on this property.

  26. Dr Frank E Accardi

    And the community steps up for one of our own !
    The talent ,experience and empathy here in Westport to protect one of our own ,our hometown and our neighbors is so very gratifying to see.
    Writing is on the wall grifters ,time to move along.

  27. Dr Frank E Accardi

    Please if you have the experience ,training or ability help these neighbors save their home.

  28. This might be a stupid question. Are any of the utilities or other property services paid for by the Vincent’s?

  29. you would be creating a bigger problem legal problem, not good advice.

  30. What a shocking abuse of trust, these entitled thieves should be punished but they won’t be. Like Mr. Yurkiw I’m a long-time landlord in Westport. I used to buy my leases at Klein’s, call some references and all was ducky.

    20 years later, I’ve met some wonderful people, but also some of the worst, most conniving, dishonest, entitled creeps I’ve ever encountered. Our current lease, sadly, is as thick as my thumb.

    But… to be kept out of your own home, and to be told by the town that the taxes you pay on your house, under these awful circumstances, don’t entitle your children to a spot in school, is awful. I can’t imagine how these people feel.

    06880 readers who say the “Victors” were naive, woulda shoulda, I think that criticism applies to experienced people like me when things go wrong, but these people aren’t landlords. It was a one time transaction, and they’re paying dearly and unfairly for “not knowing what they didn’t know.” Somebody referred to the realtor for the evil renters, and my understanding is she continues to be involved in supporting the renters, let’s hope what comes around goes around for her and her clients!

  31. Is 66 Hillandale the property in question? Does the squatter work at https://www.needhamco.com/our-team/ ?

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