Connecticut a Gentler Place to be Evicted

Legislation Update
July 8, 2016

NORWALK — The foremost concern of someone facing an eviction is where they’ll live next. Second on that list: the fate of their belongings.

In the throes of an eviction, a struggling tenant may have few places to go and fewer options for removing and storing a lifetime’s worth of personal effects.

Connecticut, however, has one of the nation’s most protective laws regarding possessions abandoned after an eviction: it’s the only state that requires municipalities to store a tenant’s property when they’re forced out of their home.

Norwalk had 54 evictions in fiscal year 2013-2014, 57 evictions in fiscal year 2014-2015 and 63 evictions in fiscal year 2015-2016. And although the current year just started July 1, the city has already been responsible for moving and storing the possessions of at least one Norwalk family.

Many states give landlords the right to sell or discard possessions after a certain amount of time. But here — where landlords have no role in storage — advocates hail third-party warehousing as a rare protection for tenants.

“Protecting the goods of tenants after an eviction and giving them the opportunity to get them back has long been a requirement of municipalities,” said Raphael Podolsky, a staff attorney with the Legal Assistance Resource Center in Hartford.

“For low-income people who don’t have resources — who don’t have a car or place to move — the fact that the municipality holds the property is an important way for them to get it back,” he said, adding that there’s little incentive for landlords to try and reunite evicted tenants with their belongings.

A few states have laws similar to Connecticut’s. In Idaho, the county sheriff’s office is responsible for moving and storing belongings, which if unclaimed can be sold to reimburse the landlord. In North Carolina, an officer removes and stores property at the landlord’s expense. In Massachusetts, a constable removes possessions and brings them to a public storage warehouse, where they will be auctioned after six months.

A financial burden

Although advocates say it’s a valuable service, Connecticut municipalities have fought for years to free themselves from what they see as a costly and burdensome directive to provide evictions storage.

“The towns say this is an unfunded state mandate,” Podolsky said.

In a 2009 testimony to the General Assembly, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities stated, “There is no justifiable reason for towns and cities to be involved in a landlord-tenant issue. Since the state doesn’t have to foot the bill, it has been content to burden communities with the mandate. It’s the kind of mandate that leaves municipal officials flummoxed.”

Tom Closter, director of environmental services at the Norwalk Department of Health, oversees evictions storage and the city’s role in the process. He said the city becomes involved at the end of an eviction, once the case has already gone through housing court. The city works with people afterward to try and get them their things.

In Norwalk, if a tenant can’t take their things, they end up in a storage facility in Stamford, Fitts Moving and Storage located at 415 Fairfield Ave. If unclaimed after 15 days, state law requires cities to conduct an auction, with proceeds covering storage costs. Revenue above that can be claimed by the tenant within 30 days, though Closter said the revenue from an auction rarely covers even a significant portion of the storage fees.

“We’re only required by law to store their things for 15 days,” Closter said. “But we work with people. Our contract with Fitts is that we’ll store items for 30 days and we usually will store things for a few months. If someone calls and says they need more time we try to accomadate that. Obviously we can’t pay to store their stuff forever, but we do our best to help people.”

Closter said the city usually budgets about $50,000 per year to cover the costs of transportation, monthly storage, a storage removal fee, the dumping fee to the city for whatever isn’t sold at auction and auction fees. In the fiscal year 2015-2016 which just ended, the city spent $54,000 on evictions.

Some years the city spends less, sometimes it spends more. When the recession hit in 2008, evictions cost the city $61,000 in fiscal year 2008-2009, and almost $77,000 the next year.

Dire cases

Only 10 to 15 percent of eviction proceedings — usually the most dire cases — result in the removal of the tenant at the end of the process, Podolsky said.

A 2006 survey conducted by Podolsky’s organization showed that 20 percent of people across the state were able to reclaim their possessions from cities for a fee after an eviction. In Norwalk, the city charges $5 per day storage fee to reclaim belongings, which helps offset some of the cost to the city.

The remaining property is put up for auction, though some cities have argued the property is not worth the money to store or try to sell.

“There are kids’ bicycles. There are lamps, furniture,” Podolsky said. “It really does demonstrate that what is removed is not all junk.”

Podolsky notes that municipal sales are not designed to maximize profit. Any proceeds beyond the city’s cost of storage — in Norwalk it ranges from $100 to $500 depending on the amount stored and the length of time — can be claimed by the owner within 30 days. Podolsky said cities can do a better job of generating profit for tenants.

“You may get $100 or less on belongings worth $5,000,” he said.


An eviction can happen to people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, who live in apartments, affordable housing and homes in foreclosure.

“There could be any variety of reasons someone gets evicted,” Closter said. “It can happen to anyone.”

State Rep. Patricia Billie Miller, D-Stamford, said tenants here need protection because, in addition to not paying rent, residents can be evicted if for any reason a landlord decides not to renew a lease.

“One of the worst things in the world is to be evicted,” Miller said. “Sometimes tenants are evicted for matters that aren’t even in their control.”

Connecticut municipalities first became responsible for evictions storage in 1895, with the goal of protecting a tenant’s belongings and preventing confrontations between tenant and landlord.

If municipalities had their way, advocates say, they would have no part in landlord-tenant issues.

“They’ve always wanted to not have this responsibility at all,” Podolsky said. “We’ve fought hard to maintain the towns as a protective entity for the renters.”

Cities achieved their most significant victory to date in 1997 when they were removed entirely from the process of commercial evictions.

They won a smaller battle in 2010, when the General Assembly passed a change to the law no longer requiring cities to transport a person’s possessions from their home to storage. State marshals help to transport property — a cost that landlords can try to recoup later on from tenants.

In 2013, the legislature rejected a move that would have altogether eliminated the municipal role in evictions.

“I understand from the town’s point of view that every dollar is a dollar,” Podolsky said. “But we think this is an important function for municipalities. It’s really a very tiny piece of any municipality’s budget.”

In CCM’s 2009 testimony, municipalities reported paying $17,000 to $70,000 to store and transport items belonging to evicted residents.

Court proceedings

The eviction process always begins with a notice to quit, a legal document notifying a tenant they may soon have to leave.

Ellen Bromley, Stamford’s social services coordinator, said even though the notice to quit gives tenants a time frame to move, tenants should know that they do not have to leave right away, and that by staying they trigger court proceedings that can buy them more time.

“The notice to quit can be a scary document, because it basically says to the tenant you no longer have a lease,” she said. “It basically announces the beginning of a lawsuit.”

“We often get calls from people who have gotten a notice to quit and they’re panicked,” Bromley said. In which case she tells them, “No tenant in the state of Connecticut has ever had to move before a judge says you’re evicted. It doesn’t matter if you have a written lease, an oral lease, or if you live with your brother-in-law and he says you have to move.”

Cowan said the city provides resources for tenants who find themselves facing eviction. Often the city will refer them to a shelter or another outside agency.

“I always wish I could catch people before they get to the court stage,” she said. “If you receive a notice, try to talk to the owner or manager. Try to get some more clarity to see if there’s a way to work it out. It doesn’t go away if you don’t show up for court. The process just continues without you.”

Source: The Hour

Additional Resource:
Public Act No. 10-171 (full text)



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.