The town of New London, CT, is assessing nearly 5 years back rent on Susette Kelo and other property holders whose land the Supreme Court recently allowed the city to confiscate. As it stands, if New London has its way, Kelo will not only lose her house, she will also be wiped out financially, all for the crime of owning the land where New London wanted condos and hotels.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently found that the city's original seizure of
private property was constitutional under the principal of eminent domain, and
now New London is claiming that the affected homeowners were living on city land
for the duration of the lawsuit and owe back rent. It's a new definition of
chutzpah: Confiscate land and charge back rent for the years the owners fought
In some cases, their debt could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Moreover, the homeowners are being offered buyouts based on the market rate as
it was in 2000...
The New London Development Corp., the semi-public organization hired by the
city to facilitate the deal, is offering residents the market rate as it was in
2000, as state law requires. That rate pales in comparison to what the units are
now worth, owing largely to the relentless housing bubble that has yet to burst.
"I can't replace what I have in this market for three times [the 2000
assessment]," says Dery, 48, who works as a home delivery sales manager for the New London Day . He soothes himself with humor:
"It's a lot like what I like to do in the stock market: buy high and sell low."
And there are more storms on the horizon. In June 2004, NLDC sent the seven
affected residents a letter indicating that after the completion of the case,
the city would expect to receive retroactive "use and occupancy" payments (also
known as "rent") from the residents.
In the letter, lawyers argued that because the takeover took place in 2000,
the residents had been living on city property for nearly five years, and would
therefore owe rent for the duration of their stay at the close of the trial. Any
money made from tenants, some residents' only form of income, would also have to be
paid to the city....
An NLDC estimate assessed Dery for $6,100 per month since the takeover, a
debt of more than $300K. One of his neighbors, case namesake Susette Kelo, who
owns a single-family house with her husband, learned she would owe in the
ballpark of 57 grand. "I'd leave here broke," says Kelo. "I wouldn't have a home
or any money to get one. I could probably get a large-size refrigerator box and
live under the bridge."
I want to barf. Hat tip to Reason's Hit and Run.