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Sheriff Tom Dart: The Right Idea, The Wrong Solution. Protecting Tenants Whose Landlord Has Been Foreclosed

I’ve written before about how the foreclosure crisis has impacted tenants in Connecticut.

The situation is sickening. I represented a 100 year old woman who lived alone in an apartment for close to 20 years and always paid her rent on time. She lived on the same street for over 40 years. Even at age 100, she was living by herself in Hartford.

Her landlord failed to pay his mortgage and as a result the bank foreclosed and filed eviction paper work against my client.

She was distraught that she was being evicted and within weeks of being served a notice to quit found herself in the hospital for the first time in her life. She died several weeks later.  Her official cause of death was “natural causes” but the doctor could have written “eviction.”

I’m very sympathetic to tenants who wind up in this situation.

Our legislature should act and afford these tenants greater protection under the law.

That being said,  I was appalled at what I was hearing on CNN radio while driving into work this morning.

Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff, Tom Dart was explaining that he is refusing to evict tenants whose landlords were foreclosed on.

Residents of foreclosed properties in Chicago and other parts of Cook County don’t have to worry about deputies forcing them out. Sheriff Tom Dart says that starting Thursday his office won’t take part in evictions.

Dart says he’s concerned that many of the people being evicted are renters who were unaware that their landlords have been failing to pay their mortgages. He says his deputies have no way of knowing whether they’re removing someone who has defaulted on a loan or someone who has been faithfully paying rent. AP Story.

As much as I agree with Sheriff Dart that something should be done to protect tenants in this situation, I strongly disagree with his refusal to carry out court orders.

Dear Sheriff Dart, we are a nation of laws, not of men.

This is a case where the “cure” is worse than the disease. It is not a sheriff’s job to determine what laws he thinks should be enforced. It is a sheriff’s job to enforce the law.

It is the legislature’s job to protect its citizens. This is the way our system works.

Shame on the Connecticut legislature for not doing more to protect tenants who find themselves in this situation.

If our legislature can pass laws about monogramming dentures, it has the time to both examine and act on this problem.

What say you? I’ve made it much easier to comment and I always welcome discussion.