Barker v. Bell
A "homestead" is defined as an "owner-occupied real property . . . used as a primary residence," pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes §52-352a(e). Allegedly, the plaintiff, Sandy Barker, obtained a court judgment against the defendant, Denise Bell, in the amount of $21,945, plus costs and interests. The plaintiff recorded a judgment lien on the land records against property that Bell owned. The property already was encumbered by mortgages in the amount of $447,900 and a tax lien in the amount of $28,255. Previously, the court granted Barker's motion for judgment on legal responsibility only, and the plaintiff moved for judgment of strict foreclosure. The plaintiff's appraiser valued the fair market value of the defendant's property at $315,000. The defendant argued that she was entitled to a homestead exemption in the amount of $75,000, pursuant to C.G.S. §52-352b(t). "When a party asserts a Homestead Exemption, the court is required to conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine the value of the property, the amount of the liens on the property, and the applicability of the Homestead Exemption," pursuant to Judge Richard Arnold's 2007 decision in Lien Factors LLC v. Belamour. If the court finds that the subject property is the primary residence of the defendant, the court can attach a judgment lien on the homestead, and the lien cannot be enforced up to the amount of the exemption, pursuant to Judge John Downey's 2001 decision, Martone-Rosato v. Guardiano-Neizwanger. Here, the court found that strict foreclosure was not appropriate, because there was no equity in the $315,000 property, after the mortgages, tax lien and $75,000 homestead exemption were calculated. The court denied the plaintiff's motion for strict foreclosure.