This is Sick

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.


  1. Gillian:

    At this point, I just hope that New London dies out through everyone in there moving the hell out before the city decides to bankrupt them too. Because that's about all I can think of to hope. That's just...the most flagrant abuse of power I can remember hearing about in the U.S.

  2. Craig:

    Maybe Kelo and the other victims should purchase some toxic waste and saturate their properties with it in the middle of the night. That would make their land useless, and all of New London's plans for naught. I am absolutely outraged by this.

  3. roaring tiger:

    This is outrageous on multiple counts! Talk about strong arm tactics! It's a form of extortion to prevent others from having the audacity to dare to sue a city government. I'd question whether it would hold up in court. Of course, the issue may become whether the Kelo crowd can afford to fight New London -- but I'll bet they'd receive a ground swell of public financial support.

  4. Bob:

    Even if one grants New London the right to charge rent, what they're charging seems grossly in excess of market rents.

  5. nmg:

    Reminds me of the UK law where the state levies room-and-board back charges on released prisoners who were innocently jailed.


  6. Neo-Libertarian:

    New London's Punitive Measures

    I'd put up some money for a good challenger candidate in New London that promises not to toss residents out of their homes for the sake of tax revenue.

  7. The Fat Triplets:

    I am SO pissed!

    Pardon my french but you all know, if you read this blog (see here, here and here), how much I detested the Supreme Courts Kelo decision in June. Well to add insult to injury, the town of New London, CT is going to charge back “rent” for ...

  8. Starboarder:

    Perhaps the homeowners should charge the NLDC a "maintenance" fee, along with interest and penalties on the fair market value, since the money was supposed to be theirs as of 2000. I love how this only works one way.