In Lawrence v. Gude, AC45191 (Conn. App. Ct. November 22, 2022), the plaintiff appealed the trial court’s finding that a wife was not liable for back rent and use and occupancy under a lease that her husband signed.
The Connecticut Appellate Court found that the language of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46b-37(b)(3) clearly and unambiguously states that both spouses shall be liable for the rental of any dwelling unit actually occupied by the spouses as a residence and reasonably necessary to them for that purpose.
The Court rejected the defendants’ argument that a spouse cannot be liable to a third party for rent owed when the spouse is not a signatory to the lease agreement. The Court found that this argument was contrary to the plain language of section 46b-37(b)(3). Furthermore, this case was analogous to precedent interpreting other subdivisions of section 46b-37(b) as creating joint and several spousal liability to third parties for certain types of debt.
In this case, the defendants admitted that at all relevant times they were married and occupying the premises as their primary residence. The husband was liable for back rent and use and occupancy. Therefore, pursuant to section 46b-37(b)(3), the wife was also liable for back rent and use and occupancy, regardless of whether she signed the lease.
The Court reversed the judgment as to the wife and remanded the case, directing the trial court to render judgment in favor of the plaintiff against the wife. The Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in all other respects.