August 10, 2009
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
A hearing in damages was heard by the Court on July 27, 2009. The court finds the following relevant facts.
The plaintiff tenant and the defendant landlord agreed to rent the premises known as 235 Priscilla Street, Bridgeport, CT for September 1, 2008. On that day the apartment was uninhabitable due to electrical problems. The tenant informed the landlord that she would not be moving in. On or about September 17, 2008, the landlord offered the tenant a second apartment located at 241 Priscilla Street. The tenant filled out the rental agreement but did not sign the agreement, but she did accept the keys to the apartment. The tenant never moved into that apartment but didn't inform the landlord of her decision until a later time. It is unclear to the court as to when the keys to the second apartment were returned by the tenant however, it was subsequent to the September 17 conversation. The landlord received a certified letter in October from the plaintiff's lawyer requesting the return of monies paid by the plaintiff in anticipation of moving into the first apartment.
Connecticut General Statutes section 47a-21(d) indicates that the security deposit must be returned within thirty days after termination. Termination of tenancy as used in this statute is considered to be the date the tenant vacates. A landlord violating the time requirements shall be liable for twice the amount or value of any security deposit paid by the tenant. Kufferman v. Fairfield University, 5 Conn.App. 118 (1985).
In this case, the parties agreed that the tenant never moved into the premises known as 235 Priscilla Street and vacated that apartment as of September 1, 2008. However, she held the keys to the second apartment for an undetermined amount of time. The letter in October, sent by her attorney, appeared to be the first clear indication that she was not moving into an apartment controlled or owned by the defendant. This court sits as a court of equity as well as a court of law and as such must allow some consideration to the landlord lack of communication by the tenant concerning the second apartment.
Accordingly, the Court makes a finding of damages for the plaintiff in the following amounts:
$425.00 return of one-half month of use and occupancy
$1,700.00 twice the security deposit as per the statute
$280.71 costs of the action