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Eviction Laws and Tenant Rights in Connecticut

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In a Nutshell

Landlords in Connecticut can’t just change the locks, toss your belongings out on the front yard, or shut down essential utilities. A landlord must follow the eviction process in order to have a tenant evicted for any reason. Here's an overview of what this means for tenants in Connecticut.

Written by Upsolve Team
Updated January 12, 2022

If you’ve received an eviction notice from your landlord, you may be wondering what happens next. While this can be a stressful time, knowing how the eviction process works and what your rights are can make it a little easier. This article explains Connecticut’s eviction laws and process. As a renter or tenant in Connecticut, you have specific rights and protections when you’re facing eviction threats from your landlord if you’re behind on rent and when your lease is about to expire.

What Is Eviction? 

Eviction is a legal process landlords use to remove a tenant from a room, apartment, or house. In Connecticut, this process is called a summary process. Before a property owner or landlord can evict you, they must give you a written notice (called a notice to quit) and get a court order. If a landlord tries to evict you without a court order or simply changes the locks, it’s an illegal eviction.

Who Can Be Evicted in Connecticut?

For a landlord to legally evict a tenant, there must be a landlord-tenant relationship. Generally, a landlord-tenant relationship exists when a tenant creates a rental agreement with a landlord to rent a property that the landlord owns. This agreement may be written or oral. In Connecticut, only individuals that are mentioned on the notice to quit can be evicted. It is up to the landlord to list each person they wish to evict. In some cases, these people may not be listed on the lease.

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Why Can Someone Be Evicted in Connecticut? 

Connecticut law provides five different reasons for eviction, including:

  • Expiration of the lease. When a written or oral lease expires, you have to move out unless you renew your lease with a new agreement. In some cases, your landlord can’t evict you because of lease expiration. If you’re 62 or older, blind, or a disabled tenant and you live in a building with five or more dwelling units, your landlord can’t evict you simply because your lease expired. Instead, there must be a cause of action, such as failing to pay rent or not complying with lease terms. 

  • Nonpayment of rent. You can be evicted for not paying your rent. Your landlord must give you at least three days’ notice before proceeding with an eviction case. If you pay back the rent within the time listed on the notice, you can’t be evicted.

  • Breach of tenant’s statutory duties. You must obey the health and fire codes. If you violate them you breach your statutory duty. Your landlord will give you notice with 15 days to cure or fix the problem before they file an eviction lawsuit. If the problem occurs again within six months, you won’t have another opportunity to fix it before the landlord files an eviction lawsuit.  

  • Breach of lease terms. You must follow the terms your landlord set out in the lease, which may include certain rules for common areas or property management. If you don't follow the terms, you’ve breached the lease. You’ll have 15 days to cure the breach, which means fixing the problem. But if you breach the lease again in a similar way within six months, you won’t be given another opportunity to cure before the landlord files an eviction lawsuit.

  • Illegal conduct or serious nuisance. This includes assaulting your landlord, gambling, prostitution, selling drugs, and other illegal conduct. If you’re evicted for any of these reasons, you won’t have the opportunity to fix the problem. 

Connecticut law states that a landlord must have a reason for eviction. The reason for eviction must be based on one of the five grounds for eviction. Once the basis is established, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.

Late, Short, or Behind on Rent? 

In Connecticut, if you don’t pay your rent on time you can be evicted. The date rent is considered late depends on the type of lease agreement you have. 

  • If you have a weekly tenancy, your rent is considered late if you haven’t paid by four days after the due date.

  •  f you have any other type of tenancy (month-to-month, yearly, etc.), your rent is considered late nine days after the due date. 

Once the rent is considered late, the landlord must provide you with a 3-Day Notice to Quit. Once you receive this notice, you have three days to pay the rent you owe or move out. If you don’t pay or move by this date, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit in court. 

If you’re having trouble making payments, it’s important to talk to your landlord early on. Your landlord may be willing to work out a payment plan with you. If your landlord refuses, you may qualify for financial assistance for emergency rental assistance programs

Lease Expiration or Termination

Connecticut law allows landlords to evict tenants after a landlord has terminated the lease or if the lease has expired. If a tenant refuses to leave after their lease expires, the landlord has the right to legally evict them. The landlord is required to give the tenant a 3-Day Notice to Quit, to move out of the property. 

A landlord may also decide to terminate the lease and evict the tenant for any of the following reasons:

  • Breach of tenant’s statutory duties. You’re permitted 15 days to cure the problem, but if the problem occurs again within six months, you won’t have another opportunity to fix the breach.  

  • Breach of lease terms. You have 15 days to cure the breach, which means fixing the problem. But if you breach the lease again in a similar way within six months, you won’t be given another opportunity to cure. 

  • Illegal conduct or serious nuisance. If you are evicted for any of these reasons, you won’t have the right to cure the problem. But you’ll have the opportunity at trial to prove your side of the story.

In Connecticut, illegal activity can include:

  • Engaging in theft, violence, or assault. 

  • Being a serious nuisance. 

  • Threatening the safety and well-being of others. 

  • Participating in illegal drug activity. 

  • Using the premises for prostitution. 

The Connecticut Eviction Process 

This is a basic overview of the general process in Connecticut for residential evictions.

What does a landlord have to do to begin an eviction?

In Connecticut, the first step in the eviction process is providing the tenant with a notice to quit. This notice must include the exact name and address of each adult tenant being evicted. It must also state at least one reason for the eviction. However, if you reside in subsidized housing you will receive a Pre-termination Notice, which informs the tenant of the grounds for eviction and how they can resolve the issue. In Connecticut, the most common reasons for eviction include nonpayment of rent and lease expiration. 

The notice to quit is a legal document that has to be delivered to each tenant or occupant listed to be evicted. The notice can be delivered to the tenant or left at the tenant’s place of residence any day of the week by a marshal, constable, or any other officer. If the tenant doesn’t move from the rental property once the time period expires, the landlord can start the eviction process in the superior court by filing a summons and complaint. A tenant can’t be removed until the landlord has filed an eviction action and received a court judgment.

What happens once the eviction action is filed with the court? 

If you choose to stay in your home and fight the landlord’s eviction, a marshal will service you with a summons and complain after the time period has expired on the notice to quit. A summons is a legal document that tells you that you’re required to appear in court at a specific time. A complaint tells you the charges alleged against you. The summons and complaint must be served at least 12 days before the eviction hearing. The marshal may serve you by either you a copy of the summons in person or leaving a copy at your home. 

There will be a box marked with a return date on the summons. It’s up to you, the tenant, to go to court no more than two days after the return date to file an appearance form. This is your way of answering the lawsuit and raising any defenses you may have. Once you sign and file the form with the court, you’re responsible for sending a copy to your landlord or your landlord’s attorney. 

When the court receives all the required documents, it will schedule a hearing. You’ll receive a Notice of Court Hearing by mail, which tells you the time and place of the hearing. It’s important to follow the filing procedure for the appearance form and show up to trial for the lawsuit. This is the time to share your story with affirmative defenses and counterclaims. If you don't, you risk a default judgment. This means you lose the case.

Telling Your Side of the Story: Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims

All tenants have the opportunity to dispute the landlord’s claims against them at trial with affirmative defenses and counterclaims. An affirmative defense is a reason you believe the landlord is wrong for bringing an eviction claim against you. If successfully raised, a defense can stop the eviction. 

A counterclaim is a claim you bring against the landlord alleging that their behavior or actions were illegal. It won’t stop the eviction, but it can help you recover money the landlord owes you or decrease the amount you owe them.

Affirmative defenses that tenants may bring include, but aren’t limited to:

  • The landlord didn’t properly notify the tenant of the eviction process.

  • The notice or summons and complaint weren’t served properly.

  • There were terms missing terms in the eviction notice, such as the date you were required to leave the premises. 

  • The landlord failed to provide habitable property conditions. 

  • The landlord failed to make necessary repairs. 

Counterclaims that tenants may bring include, but are not limited to:

  • The landlord failed to provide habitable property conditions. 

  • The landlord failed to make necessary repairs. 

  • The landlord violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against you based on age, gender, ethnicity, etc. 

  • The landlord illegally locked you out of your home or entered your home without permission. 

If a landlord fails to notify you prior to filing an eviction lawsuit in court, the court may dismiss the lawsuit, but the landlord can start the eviction process again. That said, if the landlord failed to provide the proper notice required by state law and you were evicted based on these grounds, you may have a wrongful eviction claim.  

The most common affirmative defenses or counterclaims regard unsafe property conditions or landlords' failure to make necessary repairs. Landlords are responsible for providing safe living conditions for tenants. If they don’t, it’s considered a breach of the lease contract and/or breach of the implied warranty of habitability. 

It’s best to speak with an attorney about your rights as a tenant and the legal claims you may have against your landlord. Since eviction is a civil matter, there is no guaranteed right to legal representation. But there is legal help available. 

What Happens After an Eviction Trial?

Once eviction proceedings are over, the court will issue a judgment either in favor of the tenant or landlord. If the court rules in your favor, then you’re permitted to stay in the leased premises. If the judgment is for the landlord, then the landlord will begin taking steps to remove you. The landlord must ask the court for an order to remove the tenant. The landlord then gives the order of execution to a state marshal to serve the tenant. 

Connecticut law allows a tenant to request a Stay of Execution. This gives the tenant more time to stay in their home and possibly come up with an agreement with the landlord. The judge decides whether to grant the stay. A stay can be approved for up to three months maximum if you pay the court all of the rent you owe within five days of the judgment. 

If you’re being evicted, a marshal will execute the court order. The marshal has to notify you — verbally or in writing — 24 hours before removing you from your home. This doesn’t include the day of service or the last day specified in the notice. You'll have until midnight on the last day to get all of your belongings out. 

If you fail to get all of your belongings out within the 24 hours, the marshal can physically remove your property and put it in a storage facility. You can get your belongings back if you ask for them within 15 days. You’ll have to pay moving and storage costs. Otherwise, your belongings will be auctioned off at a public auction.  

Practical Tips for Tenants Facing Eviction in Connecticut

  • In Connecticut, you can apply for funds to help with rent payments through UniteCT. If the tenant or landlord applies to the UniteCT program, the state permits a stay in eviction proceeding for up to 30 days. 

  • It’s important to reach out to your landlord early on if you’re having difficulty making payments. Your landlord may be willing to set up a payment plan with you. If you can come to an agreement with your landlord, then make sure you get it in writing and have you and your landlord sign it. 

  • Your landlord may even be open to negotiating an early move date if you can’t keep up with your payments. Make sure to research all of your options and consider getting legal advice before discussing this with your landlord. 

  • Connecticut designed the Eviction and Preclosure Prevention Program (EFPP) to prevent evictions and foreclosures through mediation and a Rent Bank. Through the EFPP, a trained third-party mediator helps develop mutually agreed upon solutions with back rent, repairs, housing code violations, and communication problems. The Rent Banks helps families pay rent and mortgage arrears. 

  • If you plan to bring a claim for unsafe property conditions or failure to make repairs, you should gather any and all documents, photos, videos, and any other evidence supporting your claims. It’s also a good idea to have a municipal building inspector visit the property to issue a report about the unsafe conditions. 

  • If you’re unable to attend a scheduled court date for good reason, reach out to the clerk of court to reschedule the court date or ask for a continuance. Otherwise, you put yourself at risk for a default judgment. 

  • If your eviction proceedings are for unpaid rent and you’re able to catch up before trial or post-judgment, make sure you keep all relevant evidence so that you can provide the court with the details. You always want to keep a copy of the payments you’ve made. 

  • Never stop paying your rent, even if there are problems with your apartment or landlord. 

Tenant Resources in Connecticut 

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