Connecticut law strictly enforces the warranty of habitability for rental properties. Read further to learn what landlords are responsible for providing and how long they have to make repairs. Learn how tenants should request maintenance and how habitability applies to damages and security deposits.
Quick Facts for Connecticut
Who Does The Warranty of Habitability Apply To?
The Warranty of Habitability in Connecticut applies to short-term and long-term rental properties, as well as long-term residents of hotels/motels. Fraternity and sorority houses are not covered under the Act.
How Long Do Tenants Have to Make Repairs?
7 days after being given written notice. Tenants may also have the cost of damages reduced from their security deposit if they are not fixed or paid for.
What Are Tenants Responsible For?
Tenants are required to keep the rental reasonably clean; landlords can ask a tenant to clean up if they are not doing so.
What are Landlords Responsible For Providing?
Running hot water, working HVAC equipment, plumbing, electrical, sanitation facilities, and elevators (in buildings that have them), as well as a trash can (for trash pickup services). Landlords are only required to provide working smoke detectors in single family units and duplexes. The presence or absence of a sprinkler system is to be included in all rental agreements, including the most recent inspection date. Landlords cannot rent units known to contain bed bugs.
How Long Do Landlords Have to Fix Something?
After tenants request repairs, landlords must make them within 20 days. They must also provide reasonable notice before entering the unit to make these repairs. Tenants can live in temporary housing until the landlord fixes a habitability issue.
Connecticut statutes govern all landlord/tenant issues in the state. The following chart lays out which types of rental units the law applies to.
Tenement/boarding homes have their own set of applicable rules regarding habitability, and are not dealt with in this article.
- The presence or absence of a sprinkler system is to be included in all rental agreements, including the most recent inspection date.
- Landlords are not liable for damage caused by the tenant.
- Tenants can live in temporary housing until the landlord fixes a habitability issue.
- Landlords cannot rent units known to contain bed bugs.
Understanding the Law
In Connecticut, landlords are responsible for ensuring that any common areas of rented or leased multifamily properties are clean and safe.
For all residential properties (single or multifamily), landlords are required to ensure the property complies with any and all building codes and housing codes as they relate to the safety of the building and/or the health of the residents.
They’re also required to make and pay for any repairs to make the unit liveable that are not caused by the tenant.
Tenants are required to pay for any repairs caused by their own negligence or intentional acts, which may come out of the security deposit.
Rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.
The following chart lists common landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in Connecticut, as indicated below.
However, tenants and landlords can have a written agreement that requires the tenant to be responsible for providing running water, heat, and trash service—but only if the rental property is a single-family residence.
In addition to the above requirements, the landlord must provide notice in the rental agreement stating whether a sprinkler system exists, and if so, when it was last serviced.
Landlords are prohibited from renting a unit known to have bed bugs. If bedbugs are discovered in a rental unit after it has been rented out, the landlord has five business days from receiving notice of the bedbug infestation to treat the unit.
If a landlord does not treat the unit within five days of receiving notice, the tenant is entitled to $250 or actual damages, whichever is greater, plus any attorney fees.
Addressing Habitability Issues
For any repairs a landlord makes due to the tenant’s actions, the landlord can:
- Use the tenant’s security deposit to pay for any damage to the property when the tenant moves out.
- Evict the tenant fifteen days after giving the tenant written notice.
Under the law, tenants are allowed to have fifteen days to correct any issues noted as the reason for terminating the lease, including repairing any damage they have caused.
Tenant Repair Requests
If tenants request repairs, they must put their request in writing to the landlord.
The landlord will then have fifteen days to make any necessary repairs after receiving written notice from their tenant.
If a landlord fails to make the requested repairs within fifteen days, their tenant has the right to terminate the lease immediately without owing any further rent.
Interestingly, if the same issue recurs within six months, upon at least two weeks’ written notice, the tenant can terminate the lease without giving the landlord the opportunity to fix the issue a second time.
Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs. However, the landlord must give tenants “reasonable” notice unless:
- The tenant no longer occupies the property.
- It’s an emergency.
- There’s a court order granting access.
- The tenant is gone for a planned absence, such as a vacation.
Failure to Provide the “Essentials”
If a landlord intentionally or negligently fails to provide heat, water, electricity, and/or other “essentials,” tenants are allowed to:
- Pay for any necessary utilities themselves and deduct this amount from the monthly rent until the landlord begins paying for utilities again.
- Move into temporary housing until the landlord corrects the issue. The tenant is not required to pay any rent to the landlord while in temporary housing, and the landlord is required to pay their tenant for the rent they had to pay at the temporary location.
- Terminate the lease and receive two months’ rent from the landlord, or double the amount of their damages, whichever is greater. In addition, the landlord will need to return the full security deposit to the tenant.
- Pursue legal action. Monthly rent will be paid to the court until the action is resolved.
Retaliation against tenants for requesting repairs that affect habitability is illegal under Connecticut law.
Security Deposits and Repairs
Finally, if the costs for any repairs were taken out of the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord is required to give them an itemized list of everything paid for from the deposit within 30 days of the lease’s termination, or within 15 days of receiving their new address (whichever is later).
Otherwise, the landlord will be required to pay their tenant double the amount of the security deposit.
- General Statutes of Connecticut, Title 47a, Landlord and Tenant, Chapter 830.
- General Statutes of Connecticut, Title 47a, Landlord and Tenant, Chapter 831.
- General Statutes of Connecticut, Title 47a, Landlord and Tenant, Chapter 833a.