Loan for borough candidate’s Prospect house has occupancy provision

NAUGATUCK — The mortgage for a Prospect home purchased by Republican tax collector candidate Kasdyn T. Click contains an occupancy provision, but he says he lives in Naugatuck.

Click, 25, bought the home at 7 Straitsville Road and adjacent property at 9 Straitsville Road in Prospect on June 17, according to Prospect land records. He bought the house at 7 Straitsville Road with a mortgage that he signed on June 13, according to the deed. Based on the deed obtained from Prospect Town Hall, the mortgage appears to be an FHA Connecticut open-end mortgage.

The terms of the $362,316 loan state Click “shall occupy, establish, and use the property” as his principal residence within 60 days of executing the mortgage and shall continue to occupy the property as his principal residence for at least one year after the date of occupancy, unless doing so creates an undue hardship or extenuating circumstances exist.

Click also owns a home at 349 Wooster St. in Naugatuck, according to Naugatuck land records. He listed this address on a State Elections Enforcement Commission candidate registration form that’s timestamped July 26.

Republican Town Committee Chairman Catherine M. Ernsky said Click rents out his home on Wooster Street and lives in another home in Naugatuck that he is renting. Ernsky emailed a letter signed by the owner of a home on May Street. The letter states that Click resides at a home on May Street. Ernsky declined to release the address publicly, citing safety reasons, and would not provide a phone number for the landlord. The landlord could not be reached for comment.

A candidate running for office in Naugatuck must be an elector, according to the borough charter. Online state voter records show that Click is registered to vote in Naugatuck. The last time Click voted in 2016, he was registered at the Wooster Street address.

When reached on his cellphone Wednesday morning, Click hung up after a reporter identified himself. A voice message left for Click seeking comment wasn’t returned.

In an emailed statement, Click wrote the assumption that there is anything wrong with his residency in Naugatuck is false. He wrote there are many factors taken into consideration when someone enters a mortgage and qualifying exemptions.

When questioned by email, Click didn’t explain what factors or exemptions may relate to his mortgage for the Prospect home.

A Federal Housing Administration-insured loan usually requires a smaller down payment and charges a lower interest rate than non-FHA loans.

The FHA defines “principal residence” as a “dwelling where the Borrower maintains or will maintain their permanent place of abode, and which the Borrower typically occupies or will occupy for the majority of the calendar year,” according to information provided by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development spokeswoman Rhonda Siciliano.

Speaking in general terms on mortgages, attorney Eugene Melchionne, who has practiced law for 39 years and previously taught real estate courses at Post University, said FHA loans are designed for owner-occupied homes.

“The goal is to have people live in their own homes,” he said.

Attorney John Kaloidis, who said he handles about five closings a month, said most mortgages — FHA-insured or not — have a principal residence requirement written into them, but it may not always be enforced.

FHA loans, he said, are for primary residences and not investment properties, and a residence requirement is standard. Borrowers are attesting that they will occupy the homes when they sign the loan, he said.

Melchionne said a principal residence doesn’t necessarily mean someone has to live at the home seven days a week. For example, he said, a person could work in New York City and spend a couple of days a week at an apartment there. But, he said, that person’s principal residence is where they intend to return to.

FHA-insured loans require properties to be owner-occupied in most cases, unless the person can prove a hardship, which include relocating for an employment-related reason, establishing a new principal residence in an area more than 100 miles away, and an increase in family size.

Click is challenging incumbent Democratic Tax Collector James J. Goggin, who is embroiled in a controversy that stems from an audit of his office over the summer that found he illegally waived interest payments among a host of other issues.

The state Office of Policy and Management conducted the audit and reviewed tax collection records, including daily sales or recorded tax payments. In a previous interview, Goggin said OPM requested three months of daily sales.

In an Aug. 5 letter to Goggin, OPM listed 15 findings from the audit. In addition to illegally waiving interest payments, the audit found the tax office stored checks to process at a later date; charged a $35 fee for returned checks and denied credit card payments, when the statutory limit is $20; processed refunds after the three-year limit; took an extended length of time to process refunds; credited interest toward principal; miscalculated interest; as well as other procedural issues.

The state only allows interest to be waived in certain situations. Any payments received after the due date must be postmarked before the due date to avoid interest.

The amount of interest waived found in the audit totaled $1,775, Goggin and Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess previously said. Goggin previously said he waived the interest for seven taxpayers who had told him they mailed their payments but they didn’t arrive.

OPM required the borough to issue bills with the correct amount, including interest, owed.

OPM also strongly advised the borough have an audit of the tax office done. OPM’s recommendations also included that Goggin, who has been tax collector for 12 years, become certified.

The audit didn’t come to light until the Republican Town Committee received an anonymous email about it and posted the documents on Facebook. The committee called for Goggin, and other officials, to resign.