Even if your apartment needs repairs, pay your rent on time. If you don't, your landlord can evict you.
The law says your landlord must
Your landlord must fix problems like
Ask your landlord to make the repairs. 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 a court case without an inspection.
When the inspector comes to your apartment,
STEP 3: Start a lawsuit in court.
You can start your lawsuit if your landlord doesn’t fix the problems within 21 days after you filed the official complaint. The court can order the landlord to make the repairs. You might also get some of your rent money back.
1. Fill out the following forms. Staff at the Court Service Center or the court clerk can give you the forms and help you fill them out. You can also get the forms online at www.jud.ct.gov/webforms.
2. Bring the forms to the court.
* If you can't afford to pay the filing fee, ask the clerk for an Application for Waiver of Fees (JD-FM-75). See our booklet: Can't Afford to Pay Court Fees? Ask for a Fee Waiver.
3. Go to court on your hearing date and tell the judge what happened.
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.
The court will send 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.
* If you can't afford the marshal’s fee, ask the clerk for an Application for Waiver of Fees (JD-FM-75). See our booklet: Can't Afford to Pay Court Fees? Ask for as Fee Waiver.
The clerk will set schedule a court hearing to be held within two weeks after your landlord gets the papers. The inspector is required by law to bring a copy of the inspection report for your house or apartment to the hearing. To protect yourself, you should make arrangements with the court to have the inspector come to court with the inspection report. See Will the inspector go to court? below.
As soon as the clerk tells you the date of your hearing, ask the clerk for subpoena papers. The subpoena papers tell the inspector to come to court with the inspection report. You will have to pay* a marshal to deliver the papers. You can get a list of marshals at the court’s website or at the clerk’s office.
* If you can't afford the marshal’s fee, ask the clerk for an Application for Waiver of Fees (JD-FM-75). See our booklet: Can't Afford to Pay Court Fees? Ask for a Fee Waiver.
You and your landlord will speak to a housing mediator first. The mediator will help you try to make an agreement (also called a stipulation) instead of having a trial.
If you can make an agreement, then you, the landlord, and the judge will sign it. You will each get a signed copy.
You can also make an agreement on your own with the landlord, but talk to the housing mediator before you sign it.
Warning! Don't sign an agreement if you can't do what it says.
You will have a trial and a judge will decide your case. Your trial will probably take an hour.
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.
If the repairs have not been made
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 passed since the first hearing, ask the clerk for a new subpoena.
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 is 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
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 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 article on Eviction.
If you think your landlord may try to evict you, start your case before he or she gives you 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: