HAMDEN >> After years of complaints from residents about bad behavior by Quinnipiac University students renting private homes in residential neighborhoods, the Planning and Zoning Commission last year amended its student housing permit regulations to require the landlord to live in the house with the students.
Now, almost a year later, and with dozens of complaints filed with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, the PZC once again is poised to amend the regulations, this time to remove that requirement.
The commission will hold a public hearing Nov. 15 on the application to amend the regulations by removing the condition that the landlord live in the house being rented to students.
“There have been a number of complaints,” Town Planner Dan Kops said, which led to the proposal. There hasn’t been any decision made regarding the complaints on the part of the CHRO, but the commission decided to act ahead of any outcomes from the complaints, Kops said.
Even before the regulations were amended in December 2015 to include the condition requiring landlords to live in the homes, there were complaints filed regarding the regulations that require landlords to apply annually for a permit to rent to students, Kops said.
“Over the past year, there have been a total of over 40 complaints filed with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities against the town regarding the student housing regulations in effect prior to the Dec. 8 amendment,” Kops said. “Although the CHRO has yet to rule definitively on those complaints, there are strong indications that the viability of those regulations will be called into question.
“The Planning and Zoning Commission recognizes that if the former regulations are considered to be too restrictive, the regulations passed last year will be considered even more objectionable,” he said, “and has therefore requested that the staff submit an application to change the regulations back to the prior version.”
CHRO spokeswoman Michelle Dumas Keuler said she couldn’t confirm any specific complaints filed against the commission but did say complaints have been filed.
“The complaints are still in investigation so the complaints themselves can’t be released,” she said. “I can only confirm whether there were complaints against the town of Hamden but I can’t give details as to what they’re about.”
Keuler said the complaints are in the process of being investigated, and it will probably take at least several months to get through that process.
Though she couldn’t comment specifically on the situation in Hamden, in general even if regulations are amended, the complaints will be acted upon, she said. “People are damaged regardless of whether the law changes or not, so if the law changes, it was one way for a period of time even if it changes back to what it was. Potentially people still have damages for the period of time it was the other way. So the change in the law wouldn’t necessarily moot out the changes for the period of time that it was the way it was.”
Even before the revised amendments passed last December, landlords had filed complaints with the CHRO regarding the requirement even to have to obtain a student housing permit in order to rent to students. The Connecticut Property Owners Alliance, acting on behalf of the landlords, filed complaints with the CHRO on the basis that having to obtain the permits amounted to “an illegal tax and placed an unnecessary and undue burden on the property owner exercising their rights to conduct free trade,” Bob DeCosmo, president of the Connecticut Property Owners Alliance, said at the time.