|Small Claim Maximum||$5,000|
|Deadline to File||3 years – Oral lease agreement
6 years – Written lease agreement
Small Claims Court Basics in Connecticut
Small Claims Court is an informal court designed for minor cases limited to a maximum claim amount. The trial does not involve a jury. Instead, the plaintiff and defendant present their case to the judge, who makes a decision.
Common suits filed by landlords include:
- Recovery of unpaid rent
- Damages that exceed the amount of the security deposit
- Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
- Early termination of a lease
Common suits filed by tenants include:
- Failure to return the security deposit correctly
- Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
- Overcharging for damages
How Long Does the Small Claims Court Process Take in Connecticut?
A typical small claims case in Connecticut takes one to two months, from the date of filing, but can be longer if the trial is continued or other delays occur. In Connecticut, the defendant is usually served before the case is filed, which typically adds one to four weeks to the timeline.
How Much Can You Sue For in Small Claims Court in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, the maximum amount that can be recovered through Small Claims Court is $5,000. However, a tenant may be awarded a judgment for more than $5,000 if the judge grants double damages.
To attempt to recover a higher amount, the suit must be filed as a civil case in the Superior Court.
How Long Do You Have to File a Small Claims Case in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, you have up to 6 years from the date of the dispute to file a small claims case if the tenancy was governed by a written lease agreement. If the lease was oral, the case must be filed within 3 years.
Are Lawyers Needed or Allowed in Small Claims Court in Connecticut?
Small Claims Court is designed to be simple and not require an attorney. However, either party can be represented by an attorney if they so choose.
Where are Small Claims Cases Filed in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, landlord-tenant small claims are filed in the Superior Court in the county where the rental property is located. To determine the correct Superior Court, you can use the judicial district directory.
How to File a Small Claims Case in Connecticut
Step 1: Complete a Small Claims Writ and Notice of Suit. Attach any relevant documentation you have to support your claim (e.g. lease agreement, photos of the apartment, etc.).
Step 2: Serve the Writ and Notice of Suit on the defendant. Service can be completed by priority mail, certified mail, or a nationally-recognized courier service. See the court’s instructions for service for more information.
You can also serve the defendant by a proper officer, such as a state marshal. However, if you choose that option, you must wait to serve the defendant until after you file the Writ and Notice of Suit with the court clerk.
Step 3: File the Writ and Notice of Suit with a Statement of Service in person at your local courthouse no later than one month after service on the defendant. Contact the court clerk in advance to determine how many copies they require.
Step 4: Pay the filing fees.
How Much Does it Cost to File a Case in Small Claims Court in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, the filing fee for a small claims case is $95.
What if You Can’t Afford to File a Case?
You can still file a case if you cannot afford the fees by filing an Application for Waiver of Fees.
Small Claims Court Process in Connecticut
After filing a small claims case in Connecticut, the court clerk will determine a deadline for the defendant to respond and the defendant must file an Answer or Counterclaim.
Step 1: Defendant files an Answer and Counterclaim. After the defendant is served, they must file an Answer or a Counterclaim. Once the defendant responds to the Writ and Notice of Suit, the court clerk will schedule a trial date.
If the defendant fails to respond, the judge may issue a default judgment.
Step 2: Gather witnesses. If you think it would help your case, ensure that any witnesses are available to attend the trial. For example, you may ask the apartment manager to serve as a witness to how clean you left the apartment after moving out.
You may need to subpoena a witness if you are unable to get them to attend voluntarily by filing and serving a Subpoena.
Step 3: Attend the trial. On the trial date, you should bring copies of any evidence you have to support your claim. The judge will give you and the defendant an opportunity to provide your arguments before they decide to dismiss the case or issue a judgment.
If the defendant does not attend the trial, the judge will issue you a default judgment.
Winning a Small Claims Judgment in Connecticut
If you win the judgment in Connecticut, you may be paid the judgment within the allotted time period, or you may need to pursue additional actions to recover the debt. Judgments issued in Small Claims Court cannot be appealed by either party.
If you win the judgment, the judge may determine a time period for repayment. If the judgment is against a landlord for return of a security deposit, the judge will order it to be paid in a lump sum. In the best case, the judgment debtor pays the debt promptly after it is issued.
If the debtor is delinquent on their payment or refuses to pay, you can recover the debt through bank or wage garnishment or property seizure by filing an application for execution.
You have 10 years to collect a small claims judgment before it expires. A judgment collects interest at a rate determined by the court, up to 10%.
- 1 CT Gen Stat § 51-15
The small claims procedure shall be applicable to all actions, except actions of libel and slander, claiming money damages not in excess of five thousand dollars…Source Link
- 2 CT Gen Stat § 51-15
If an action is brought in the small claims session by a tenant…the judicial authority hearing the action may award to the tenant the damages…notwithstanding that the amount of such damages and costs, in the aggregate, exceeds the jurisdictional monetary limit established by this subsection.Source Link
- 3 CT Gen Stat § 52-576
No action…on any contract in writing, shall be brought but within six years after the right of action accrues…Source Link
- 4 CT Gen Stat § 52-581
No action founded upon any express contract or agreement which is not reduced to writing…shall be brought but within three years after the right of action accrues.Source Link
- 5 CT Gen Stat § 52-263
…if either party is aggrieved by the decision…he may appeal…except in small claims cases, which shall not be appealable…Source Link
- 6 CT Gen Stat § 52-380a
…any judgment lien recorded with respect to a small claims action shall expire ten years after the judgment was rendered…Source Link
- 7 CT Gen Stat § 37-3a
…interest at the rate of ten per cent a year, and no more, may be recovered and allowed in civil actions…Source Link