Leases in Connecticut can be written or oral. Whenever there is a valid lease, Connecticut law (Connecticut General Statutes Title 47a) grants tenants and landlords specific rights automatically. That means the parties will have these rights even if they are not mentioned in the lease.
The tenant’s rights include the right to a receipt for every rent payment and the right to continuous and sufficient supply of essential services or utilities. The landlord’s rights include the rights to collect a security deposit and to deduct the cost of repairs to excessive damage to the unit from it.
In a similar way, counties and municipalities also give certain rights to landlords and tenants so it advisable to check those as well to get the whole picture.
Warranty of Habitability in Connecticut
Landlord Responsibilities. In Connecticut, landlords are responsible for meeting minimal standards healthy and safe habitation, known as their “warranty of habitability.” This state’s standards are fairly minimal, requiring landlords to provide and maintain in working order the following amenities:
- Clean common areas
- Proper lighting in all passageways and stairways
- Appropriate plumbing, including adequate access to hot and cold water
- An HVAC system that provides a reliable amount of heat
- Safe electrical wiring and outlets
- Sanitation facilities
- Trash receptacles
Connecticut’s warranty of habitability only applies to certain types of dwellings, as well. Currently, these regulatory standards are chiefly applied to single- and multi-family rental units. However, these rules may also apply to some mobile homes, but only in situations where the inhabitant is renting the unit (rather than owning it outright).
If one of the amenities described above fails to work as expected, tenants may request that their landlord perform a repair in writing. After receiving this request, landlords have 15 days to respond and address the issue to the best of their ability. If the requested repair is not made in that time frame, then the affected tenant has the right to terminate their lease immediately.
Tenant Responsibilities. Tenants in Connecticut are responsible for several duties over the course of their lease, such as the duty to pay rent on time and their duty to keep their rented space in good condition. If the tenant fails to keep up their end of the agreement regarding this second duty, a landlord may inform their tenants accordingly. Tenants then have 7 days to remedy the problem before their landlord can proceed with eviction.
Also, in situations where their landlord fails to make a necessary repair, a tenant in Connecticut can inform their landlord of their intentions before making the repair on their own. Tenants in this situation can then deduct the value of said repairs, but only in a limited number of circumstances. Tenants in a similarly limited number of situations may also chose to withhold rent, but only by filing a complaint through the local Housing Court.
Evictions in Connecticut
Tenants in Connecticut may be evicted for a number of reasons under state law. Among other potential causes for eviction, these following justifications are most often used by landlords in Connecticut:
- Failure to vacate at the end of a lease – When a lease comes to its natural conclusion, tenants in Connecticut must promptly vacate their former unit. Failure to do so may provide justification for a landlord to seek eviction for rent non-payment.
- Nonpayment of rent – If a tenant in Connecticut fails to pay rent in the state-mandated 9-day grace period, their landlord may issue them a Notice to Quit. After this, the tenant has 3 days to pay up or be faced with eviction.
- Violation of lease terms – When a documented lease violation occurs, tenants have 15 days after notification of their violation to correct the issue. This may include providing payment to cover the cost of a repair. If no remedy is provided in that time frame, a Connecticut landlord may proceed with the eviction process.
- Illegal Acts – Connecticut enumerates several illegal activities that can cause a lease agreement to become immediately void. If a landlord observes any of the following activities, they may evict their tenant immediately without notice:
- Committing acts of prostitution on the rental property
- Illegally gambling within the rental property
- Selling liquor on the property
In almost all cases, evictions may be precipitated by a landlord through the state’s eviction procedure, known as the Summary Process. This includes several steps and typically takes around 30 days to complete after a Notice to Quit is served.
Evictions without a lease. So-called “at will” tenants who fail to pay their Connecticut landlord are subject to immediate eviction at the moment they receive a Notice to Quit from their landlord. This is regardless of the rental period length practiced between the landlord and tenant in lieu of a formal lease agreement. Failure to vacate by the date listed on the Notice to Quit may result in formal eviction through the Summary Process.
Illegal Evictions. Tenants in Connecticut may not be evicted for a number of reasons, including as retaliation for asking for one or more repairs in the previous 6 months. Similarly, a Connecticut landlord may not retaliatorily evict a tenant for reporting a health or safety code violation or joining a tenant union.
Landlords in Connecticut are further barred from discriminatorily evicting tenants. As such, individuals cannot be evicted in this state solely because of their race, national origin, religion, familial status, sexual orientation, disability, or gender identity.
Security Deposits in Connecticut
Connecticut state law currently sets several limitations and guidelines upon security deposits charged by landlords operating within the state. These include the following:
- Standard Limit / Maximum Amount – Most tenants in Connecticut can only be charged up to 2 months’ rent in value as a security deposit (not including additional monthly fees). However, tenants who are 62 years of age or older can only be charged 1 months’ rent in value as a security deposit.
- Maintenance and Interest – After receiving a security deposit, landlords in Connecticut must immediately deposit it in an escrow account that can incur interest. This interest may not be spent by the landlord and instead must be paid out annually, either as a deposit to the tenant or as a credit to their rent payment.
- Time Limit for Return – After tenancy ends, a landlord in Connecticut has 30 days to return any and all security deposits, including any interest those deposits may have incurred. This same time frame applies when landlords need to make deductions, at which time the landlord must send along any remaining deposit money along with an itemized list explaining the deductions.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – Failure to return a security deposit or its interest in the 30 day time frame may require a landlord to pay out double the original deposit’s value as a penalty. The same doubling penalty may be applied if the landlord in question fails to return only the tenant’s earned interest, as well.
- Allowable Deductions – Connecticut does not enumerate allowable deductions when it comes to security deposits. However, it is assumed that charges cannot be levied against a tenant’s security deposit to cover regular wear and tear. Similarly, Connecticut landlords are likely not able to take money from a security deposit to balance out interest paid on that deposit.
Lease Termination in Connecticut
Notice Requirements. In all situations, a Connecticut landlord is only required to give their tenants 3-days’ notice before terminating their lease (without a separate negative justification, that is). This includes tenants who are renting on a month-to-month basis, as well as those in a week-to-week lease agreement.
Legally Breaking a Lease Early. In most cases, tenants in Connecticut are able to legally break off their lease by utilizing an Early Termination clause written into their lease agreement. However, in lieu of this standardized procedure, tenants may also use one of the following justifications when looking to terminate their lease without incurring fines or fees:
- Active Military Duty – Federal law allows service members who are relocating due to deployment or permanent change of station to terminate their lease as early as 30 days from the next rent period.
- Unit is Uninhabitable – Uninhabitable units are defined by Connecticut as any unit that lacks the amenities described in the state’s warranty of habitability. This includes in cases where those amenities remain in poor condition due to a lack of repairs or maintenance. In these cases, a tenant may consider themselves “constructively evicted,” thus allowing their lease to terminate immediately.
- Lease Violation – Any form of lease violation on the landlord’s part may be used as justification to end a lease on the tenant’s part. This includes illegally raising rent against the provisions of the mutually agreed upon lease. This may also include any number of behaviors that may be described as “harassment,” such as entering without proper notice or changing the locks to initiate a “lockout.”
- Domestic Violence – Victims of domestic violence, including sexual assault and harassment, may file for early termination with 30 days’ prior notice to their landlord. To initiate such a provision, the tenant must provide a sworn statement to their status as a victim as well as corroborating evidence, such as a police report.
- Senior Citizens or a Health Issue – Individuals over age 62 or those with a serious disability may terminate their lease with 30 days’ prior notice if they are accepted into federal- or state-subsidized housing.
In Connecticut, tenants are still obliged to pay rent, even if they move out before the end of the leasing period. However, they may be able to end this obligation if a new tenant is found. As such, landlords in Connecticut must make a reasonable effort to find a new tenant for any rental unit that is not currently occupied, but remains under lease.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Connecticut
Rent control & increases. Under the state’s current regulatory code, Connecticut landlords do not need to provide any notice before raising rent. Connecticut law also explicitly forbids state or local rent control policies, so landlords in this state are also free to raise their tenant’s rent to any amount. However, fair rent commissions are permitted under state law and may be used to apply pressure on landlords that exceed local norms when it comes to raising rent prices.
As in almost all states, Connecticut landlords are also forbidden from raising rent in a discriminatory manner or as retaliation for any number of actions that displease the landlord.
Rent related fees. Connecticut’s current legal code allows for late fees to be charged by landlords, but only after the passage of the state-mandated 9-day rent payment grace period. The precise value of these late fees is not statutorily limited by the state. However, the state does effectively prevent fees for being charged against tenants in cases where a check provided to their landlord bounces.
Housing Discrimination in Connecticut
Federal Protections. The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from being discriminated against due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. However, the law does not apply to all housing, such as owner-occupied homes with 4 or fewer units or housing operated by religious organizations.
State Protections. Connecticut provides several categorical protections for individuals when it comes to housing within the state’s jurisdiction. These following factors or characteristics may not be used against a current or prospective tenant, both while inquiring about or occupying a rental unit:
- Marital status
- Age (for non-minors)
- Lawful source of income
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
Discriminatory Acts & Penalties. Connecticut’s Commission on Human Rights, Fair Housing Division, enumerates several acts or behaviors that may be considered discriminatory if they occur before or during the course of a lease agreement. Among other potential discriminatory acts, Connecticut landlords are forbidden from doing any of the following with regards to a protected class:
- Rent, sell, or negotiate on a house or rental unit
- Make or present housing as “unavailable”
- Provide differing housing services or leasing terms
- Induce a tenant to sell for the purpose of personal profit (blockbusting)
- Provide differing brokerage or financing services
The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights, Fair Housing Division, does not specifically outline what kinds of punishments may be doled out to landlords who break these rules. However, they do indicate that infringing landlords are given an opportunity to correct their mistakes and enter into a conciliatory agreement with the Commission before further action is taken.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Connecticut
Connecticut also maintains a variety of miscellaneous statutory standards which may become relevant over the course of a landlord-tenant relationship. These are just a few that are related to the source of significant disagreements between Connecticut landlords and tenants.
Landlord Entry. Landlords in Connecticut are allowed to enter a rented unit, so long as they receive written or oral permission from that unit’s residents in advance. These entrances can only occur at “reasonable” hours and most explicitly be for a purpose relating to the terms of the lease agreement, such as making a repair or showing the apartment to a prospective tenant.
In cases of emergency, landlords in Connecticut reserve the right to enter a tenant’s unit without prior permission. This right, and any other right to entry, may not be abused so as to harass a tenant, however.
Small Claims Court. Landlords and tenants in Connecticut have the option to settle their formal disputes in the state’s small claims court, which accepts cases valued at $5,000 or less. However, in certain jurisdictions, these kinds of claims must be adjudicated by the local Housing Session. This guide details which areas of the state are covered by which type of judicial institution.
Mandatory Disclosures. In Connecticut, landlords are only required to make a pair of disclosures to their tenants over the course of their lease agreement. These mandated disclosures are as follows:
- Lead-based paint. For houses built prior to 1978, federal law requires landlords to provide tenants with information about lead based paint hazards. Read more.
- Authorized Authorities. Either as part of the lease agreement or a separate agreement, landlords must inform their tenants in writing of their own name and address. Alternatively, landlords may provide the name and address of the property manager who will service their rented unit over the lease agreement.
Changing the Locks. Currently, Connecticut’s laws do not set forth situations where either a landlord or their tenant may change the locks during the course of their lease agreement. However, the state’s laws do forbid landlords from unilaterally changing a tenant’s locks so as to precipitate a “lockout.”
Connecticut Resources for Landlord and Tenants
If you live in Connecticut and are looking to learn more about how landlord-tenant laws operate in the state, then check out some of these helpful resources:
Rights and Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants in Connecticut – A consumer-friendly digest of the state’s laws and regulations regarding landlord-tenant relationships. This guide also provides useful contact information for regulatory authorities and legal services across the state.
Your Right to Equal Opportunity Housing – A concise primer on fair housing regulations in the state. This pamphlet also provides readers with information about contacting the state Commission for Human Rights, as well as the process used to adjudicate housing discrimination cases.
Connecticut Law About Landlord/Tenant Law – This landing page, provided by the Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Libraries, includes links to all of the state statutes relating to landlord-tenant relationships. This page can also direct you to a variety of forms used by the state to manage landlord-tenant disputes.