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Landlord/Tenant Law Appellate Court Opinion

by Zigadto, Janet


AC37929 - Pedrini v. Kiltonic ("In this landlord-tenant case, the plaintiff . . . appeals from the judgment of the trial court returning to her $1094.81, a portion of her security deposit plus interest. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the trial court erred by: (1) failing to award her double the amount of her security deposit pursuant to General Statutes (Rev. to 2011) § 47a-21 (d) (2); (2) failing to find that the actions of the defendant . . . constituted a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), General Statutes § 42-110a et seq., and, therefore, failing to assess punitive damages and to award the plaintiff attorney's fees pursuant to § 42-110g (a) and (d); and (3) finding that the plaintiff was entitled to only a portion of her security deposit plus interest. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. . .

The plaintiff's argument that the defendant was not entitled to deduct $527.55 from the security deposit rests on the assumption that the court allowed the deduction as a setoff for any property damage. The plaintiff cites our Supreme Court's decision in Expressway Associates II v. Friendly Ice Cream Corp. of Connecticut, 218 Conn. 474, 590 A.2d 431 (1991) for the proposition that '[a] landlord['s] claim for property damage, like back rent claims, usually arise[s] either as part of a suit for damages or as a setoff or counterclaim to a tenant's action for return of a security deposit.' The plaintiff's characterization of the court's award is mistaken. Under the lease, the plaintiff was obligated to pay the water and sewer bills, and to maintain the exterior of the property. The court heard evidence from the defendant that the plaintiff failed to comply with her obligations, and the court was entitled to credit such testimony. On the basis of the statute, the defendant was entitled to withhold damages suffered by the tenant's failure to comply with the lease agreement. The plaintiff's characterization of this amount as a setoff, counterclaim, or special damage is misplaced. The court correctly followed the dictates of § 47a-21 (d) (1) in deducting from the security deposit the damages suffered by the defendant as a result of the tenant's failure to comply with her obligations under the lease. Accordingly, the court's findings were not clearly erroneous.

The judgment is affirmed.")