Tenants' Rights: Repairs
Tenants' Rights: Repairs
Even if your apartment needs repairs, pay your rent on time! If you do not, your landlord can evict you.
What to do about the repairs
Ask your landlord to make the repairs. If your landlord does not make the repairs right away, you can ask the court for help.
The court can order the landlord to make the repairs. You might also get some of your rent money back.
- How do I sue my landlord?
- What happens at the hearing?
- Can my landlord evict me if I file a lawsuit?
- How do I contact my town Code Enforcement Office?
How can the court help me?
The law says your landlord must:
- make your apartment clean and safe when you move in, and
- keep the apartment in good condition while you live there.
Your landlord must fix problems like:
- peeling paint or broken windows,
- plumbing, electrical or heating systems that don't work properly, even if you pay for heat or water
- rats or roaches, and
- no smoke detector.
You can sue if your landlord does not make needed repairs.
STEP 1: Ask your landlord to make repairs. If you ask in person, make sure there is a witness with you. If you ask in writing, keep a copy of your letter. If your landlord does not make repairs when you ask, go to Step 2.
STEP 2: Get someone to inspect your apartment. You cannot start your case without an inspection.
Call or visit 211 to find the phone number of your town’s Code Enforcement Office. Call the Code Enforcement Office to file a complaint.
When the inspector comes to your apartment, show the inspector everything that needs to be fixed. Write down the inspector's name.
STEP 3: If your landlord doesn’t fix the problems within 21 days after you filed the official complaint, you can start your lawsuit in court.
How do I start my lawsuit?
1. Fill out and file these forms in Housing Court. The clerks can give you the forms and help you fill them out.
Or you can get the forms at www.jud.ct.gov/webforms.
- Sign them in front of the court clerk, a notary, or a lawyer.
- File them with the Housing Court clerk.*
- Go to court on your hearing date and tell the judge what happened.
Should I continue paying rent to my landlord?
Once you start your lawsuit, you will pay rent to the court – not to your landlord. If you have not paid your rent for the current month, pay your rent to the court (cash or money order only).
Keep paying your rent to the court until the judge decides your case. If you do not pay the court your rent, the court can throw out your case without deciding about the repairs.
Warning: If you change your mind about suing, you may not be able to get your rent money back.
What happens next?
The court sends the lawsuit papers to your landlord by certified mail. (The inspector will also get a copy of your lawsuit.)
If your landlord doesn’t accept or pick up the certified letter, you will have to pay* a marshal to deliver the papers. You can find a list of marshals at the court’s website or at the clerk’s office.
When will the judge decide the case?
There will probably be a court hearing within 2 weeks after your landlord gets the papers.
Make a list of the needed repairs.
If you can, take photos of the problems in your home. Bring 2 extra copies of the photos – one for the judge and the other for the landlord.
You may take people (witnesses) who have seen these problems.
Make notes about how the problems in your home hurt or inconvenienced you or your family.
Will the inspector go to court?
As soon as the clerk tells you the date of your hearing, ask the clerk how to get the inspector to go to the hearing with a copy of his/her report. The clerk will give you subpoena papers to fill out. You will have to pay* a marshal to deliver the papers. You can find a list of marshals at the court’s website or at the clerk’s office.
Will my trial start right away?
You and your landlord will speak to a Housing Mediator first. The Housing Mediator will try to help you make an agreement (also called stipulation), instead of having a trial. If you can make an agreement, you, the landlord, and the judge will sign it. You will each get a signed copy of the agreement.
You can also make an agreement on your own with the landlord. But talk to the Housing Mediator before you sign it.
Warning! Do not sign an agreement if you cannot do what it says.
What if the landlord and I cannot make an agreement?
You will have a trial and a judge will decide your case. Your trial will probably take an hour, and will be like this:
You and your landlord must each swear to tell the truth.
When it’s your turn, tell the judge about:
- The repairs needed in your apartment,
- If there is a smoke detector in your apartment, and
- The date you asked your landlord to make the repairs.
You may ask the inspector to tell the judge what’s wrong with your apartment, and to give the judge the inspection report.
You may ask the judge to order your landlord to:
- Make the needed repairs,
- Give you back the rent you paid for the time that your landlord did not fix the problems,
- Pay you for any damage to your things or your health.
What happens after the hearing?
The judge may ask you and the landlord to go back to court to report on the repairs. Ask the clerk if you have another court date.
What happens at the second hearing?
If the repairs have not been made…
- Tell the judge, and
- Ask the judge to appoint someone (called a receiver) to make the repairs.
You may bring witnesses to court and the same kind of proof you took to the first hearing. If you want the inspector to go to court, and more than 60 days have gone by since the first hearing, ask the clerk for a new subpoena.
What happens to the rent money that I paid to the court?
When the repairs are done and the lawsuit is over, the judge decides who gets the money. You can also make an agreement with your landlord about who gets the money. Make sure it’s in writing and give a copy to the court.
If the judge is making the decision, tell the judge why you think you should get the rent money back.
The judge can decide to:
- give you all or part of the rent money or
- give the landlord all or part of the rent money you paid.
No! If you pay your rent to the court every month, your landlord cannot evict you for not paying rent.
Do not pay late! Pay your rent money within 9 days of the due date.
If your landlord tries to evict you after you start your case, you will have a good defense against eviction. See our booklet on Eviction.
Can I start my case if the landlord already gave me eviction papers?
If you already got a Notice to Quit, it may be too late to start your case. But you should do these things:
- Talk to a lawyer
- Don't give up. The repairs needed may help you win the eviction case.
- Call your local Code Enforcement Office right away to ask for an inspection.
If you think your landlord may try to evict you, start your case before s/he does that.
Call Infoline at: 2-1-1 orvisit their website.
Statewide Legal Services: 860-344-0380 (Central CT & Middletown) or 1-800-453-3320 (all other regions).
Not from Connecticut?
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