Tenant Right to Withhold Rent for Repairs in Connecticut
Landlords in Connecticut have certain responsibilities to keep their rental property in a clean, safe, and habitable condition. If the landlord does not live up to these obligations, tenants in the state have a right to take action. Tenants should not have to pay rent if their unit is in violation of health and safety codes. Here is a tenant’s right to withhold rent for repairs in Connecticut.
A Connecticut Landlord’s Responsibilities
Under Connecticut landlord-tenant law, landlords have certain responsibilities when it comes to the condition of the property. These responsibilities focus on the safety, cleanliness, and habitability of the property. In Connecticut, a landlord’s responsibility to maintain the premises includes:
- Comply with all applicable building and housing codes affecting the health and safety of the tenants.
- Keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition including making necessary repairs to keep or put the premises into this condition. If the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household or a guest of the tenant deliberately or through negligence put the unit into an unfit and uninhabitable condition, then it will be the tenant’s responsibility to restore the unit to a fit and habitable condition.
- Keep all common areas clean and safe.
- Maintain in good working order all electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, sanitary and any other facilities or appliances that the landlord is responsible for supplying.
- Provide and maintain appropriate receptacles for trash and debris and arrange for them to be removed.
- Supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water and heat, unless the tenant is solely responsible for paying for utilities such as heat and hot water.
- Any additional responsibilities that are imposed upon the landlord by local laws.
Agreed Upon Tenant Responsibilities
In Connecticut, the landlord and tenant can mutually agree that the tenant will be responsible for certain maintenance obligations that would have otherwise been the responsibility of the landlord.
Single Family Homes
The landlord and tenant can agree that the tenant will be responsible for garbage and trash removal, as well as for supplying their own heat and hot water. The tenant can also be responsible for certain repairs or maintenance if it is mutually agreed upon. This agreement must be made in writing and must be done in good faith and not so the landlord can avoid their responsibilities.
In multifamily homes, the landlord and tenant can agree that the tenant will be responsible for certain repairs, maintenance or other tasks. The tenant cannot be responsible for repairing housing or building code violations or for any repairs to bring the unit into a fit and habitable condition. This agreement must be made in writing, must be done in good faith, and cannot interfere with the landlord’s obligations to the other tenants in the building.
How a Tenant Can Take Legal Action
A tenant can initiate an action in court against the landlord to get the landlord to fulfill their responsibilities.
File Complaint With Local Agency
Before the tenant can file a complaint with the court, they must have filed a complaint with the local housing code enforcement agency regarding the landlord’s alleged violation. After 21 days, the tenant can then begin the process in court.
File Complaint With Court
To begin the process, the tenant must file a complaint with the clerk. This complaint must include the name of the tenant, name of the landlord, the address of the property, the alleged violation by the landlord and the date rent is due along with the rent amount due on those dates. The tenant will have to pay a $25 fee to file this complaint.
Payment of Rent Into Court
After filing a complaint with the court, weekly tenants have four days, and all other tenants have up until nine days, to deposit with the clerk of the court, an amount equal to their agreed-upon weekly or monthly rent payment. This rent will be held by the clerk until the court decides the outcome of the complaint. If the tenant does not pay this required rent amount into court, the court may elect to dismiss the tenant’s claim. If the tenant has paid the rent amount into court, the landlord cannot attempt to file a notice to terminate for nonpayment against the tenant.
What Happens in Court
The court will schedule a date for a hearing within 14 days of the filing of the complaint. The court will also send copies of the complaint to the landlord and the local code enforcement agency via certified mail. The code enforcement agency is responsible for furnishing the court with a copy of the original complaint.
The court can decide to do any of the following:
- Order the landlord to comply with their duties.
- Order for a third party to collect rent or correct conditions at the property.
- Award monetary damages, which may include reimbursing the tenant for previously paid rent.
- An order that rent paid into court by the tenant can be used to repair the premises or can be awarded appropriately between the parties.
- Other orders deemed fit by the court.
Tenants whose landlords have already filed a notice to quit against them for nonpayment of rent or for another breach of the lease agreement are not allowed to file a complaint against the landlord with the local agency or with the court because it will be seen as a retaliatory action by the tenant.
The landlord can issue a counterclaim, stating that the tenant has not fulfilled their obligations.
Connecticut’s Law on Withholding Rent
To view Connecticut’s law on withholding rent, please consult the Connecticut General Statutes.
The information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney.