BEACH LIVING: Fairfield college students warned no more than 4 to a house
FAIRFIELD — Students heading off to college most likely get all sorts of advice and warnings from their parents. Fairfield University seniors living in the beach district got an additional warning from the town this past weekend.
Electronic message boards positioned on Beach and Reef Roads reminds the students that local regulations limit the number of unrelated people living in a unit in the beach district to four. Should they have more than four, they could face eviction.
“The department conducted inspections at all the properties and found no evidence of overcrowding at four of the properties, and was refused entry at one property at which we were unable to gather sufficient evidence to support a search warrant being issued” Cleary said.
At another of the properties, Cleary said, the inspection revealed overcrowding and the property owner voluntarily complied, and reduced the occupancy to four people.
“For the remaining two properties, the department issued order letters to four tenants and two landlords for overcrowding,” Cleary said. “We ended up filing arrest warrant applications for both owners with housing court for non-compliance.”
He said the orders issued to the tenants were appealed, and at a hearing in Hartford, an agreement was reached wherein the four tenants provided statements admitting to the overcrowding and stating the landlord was aware there were more than four tenants.
The landlord was compelled to initiate eviction actions, Cleary said, and did so against all tenants in the dwelling. For one property owner, with one tenant over the allowed four, the Housing Court accepted the owner’s claim she was not aware of the reduced occupancy limit in that area, Cleary said, and was allowed to have the one extra occupant finish the last few months of the school year.
“In addition to occupancy limit street signs which have been installed in the beach district, and a letter going out to all owner/occupants, the variable message signs are one of the new approaches we are taking this year to make rental occupants, parents and property owners aware of the occupancy limits in the area and the potential consequences,” Cleary said.
He said Fairfield University has also instated some new protocols to ensure students are aware of occupancy limits and all the regulations regarding behavior in the beach area. “Our department, and the Police Department, have received several calls and contact from parents of students, landlords and area residents mentioning the signs and asking questions about the occupancy limit,” Cleary said. “These include one area resident who suspects overcrowding already but who did not wasn’t ready to file a complaint yet, and a parent of a student who came into the office to discuss the consequences if overcrowding occurred at his child’s dwelling.”
What happens if students are evicted prior to the end of the school year? Thomas Pellegrino, vice president for student affairs at Fairfield University, said students are released to live off campus. “While this ends their on campus housing contract with the university, we advise any student seeking on campus housing to contact the office of Residence life,” he said.
The regulation, limiting rentals to no more than four unrelated tenants, was adopted in 1989 to “provide zoning guidelines that promote a shorefront residential land use that does not adversely impact the coastal resources and protects the quality of life that has developed,” according to a letter sent at that time to beach district property owners.