How Tenants May Deal with Challenging Landlords

Recently we discussed the case of the challenging tenant and gave discussed how landlords can deal with this type of situation. The flipside of course, is the less than desirable landlord. Although challenging landlords may be fewer than challenging tenants, dealing with the former is no easier than dealing with the latter. In fact, overly demanding landlords can sometimes be even more of a nuisance than tenants, mainly because landlords come into the situation with a substantial level of power. Most tenants simply do not have the resources necessary to properly and smoothly handle an irrational landlord. Hopefully, this article can provide a good starting point for tenants in this way. 

Acquire the Service & Deduct Cost

What does a “challenging landlord” look like? In many cases, irresponsibility on the part of landlords manifests in the form of failing to provide essential services, such as heat, electricity, hot water, basic safety, and so forth. If a landlord does behave irresponsibly in this way, many tenants panic and assume that they have no options. However, the truth is that tenants have several options to rectify this type of behavior. One way to rectify things is to simply acquire whatever essential service is lacking and then deduct the cost from future rent. If, for instance, the landlord fails to repair a broken toilet, and the repair costs $500, a tenant can simply pay for the repair and then deduct $500 from next month’s rent payment. Notice and opportunity to fix the problem must be given before a tenant may use this remedy, but if the problem is not fixed within a reasonable amount of time, this is a viable option.

Arrange for Substitute Housing in the Case of Nonperformance

Depending on the situation, there may be cases in which a tenant cannot simply acquire the necessary service independently. In such cases, tenants may provide written notice of the deficiency to the landlord so that the urgency of the matter is understood. If the landlord fails to rectify the situation, tenants may be allowed to obtain alternative housing until the problem is fixed. This is an extreme remedy and one that is only justified where the rented dwelling is temporarily uninhabitable. Obviously, tenants are not required to pay rent for days spent in alternative housing.

Terminate Lease & Sue for Monetary Relief

There may also be cases in which a landlord purposely withholds essential services from tenants. In these situations, tenants have the ability to terminate the lease altogether, and even file a lawsuit against the landlord to recover damages of up to two months of rent. If the tenant incurs specific damages as a result of the willful failure to supply the service, the tenant can sue and recover up to twice the actual damages sustained. The maximum amount which can be recovered is the greater of these 2 amounts. For reference, these remedies derive from Section 47a-13 of the Connecticut General Statutes.

Terminate the Lease for Other Repairs

Aside from essential services, tenants can also terminate the lease and then procure other housing if landlords fail to make other repairs and perform maintenance. However, in the case of a “non-essential” repair or maintenance task, the procedure is a bit different. First, the tenant needs to provide the landlord with a 15 day notice which indicates which type of repair or maintenance needs to take place. If the repair or maintenance doesn’t occur within the 15 day period, then the tenant is legally allowed to terminate the lease, withhold all future rent and obtain alternative housing arrangements. 

If the landlord complies and makes the repair within the 15 day period, but then fails to perform the same repair or maintenance task within the next 6 months, the tenant can then provide a 14 day “termination notice” to the landlord. This means that the tenant can simply terminate the lease after the 14 day period, regardless of whether the repair is made or not. 

Contact the Apex Law Firm for Additional Information

Dealing with an irresponsible landlord is no picnic. In fact, as mentioned, in many cases it can be even more troubling than dealing with a challenging tenant. But, if this situation does arise, it is always best to consult with an attorney experienced in housing law before taking action to ensure you understand the law and your options. For more information, call Apex Law Firm today at 860-900-0900.

Security Deposits in Connecticut

Connecticut General Statutes Section 47a-1 through 74 governs the complex interactions and exchanges between landlords and tenants. One facet of the landlord-tenant relationship is security deposits. Nearly all landlords require a security deposit of some amount from tenants who occupy a rental unit. In this post, we will discuss some of the essential points of the law of security deposits here in CT

Basics of Security Deposits

Essentially, a security deposit fulfills two purposes for landlords: the deposit protects the landlord from financial loss in the event that a tenant causes damage to the rental unit (beyond normal wear and tear); and it will lessen the financial blow in the event that a tenant prematurely walks away from the lease. As mentioned, virtually all landlords will ask for a deposit of some kind, although landlords vary widely in their deposit requirements. Some landlords will only ask for a nominal deposit, while others may require the maximum amount allowable. 

In some cases, your financial situation, rental history, or some combination of both these things may impact the amount required by landlords. In Connecticut, landlords are limited to a maximum amount, but not by a minimum; and, landlords can set their own standards for determining the amount required.

The Maximum Allowable Deposit

If a tenant is under the age of 62, landlords cannot ask for a deposit which exceeds an amount equal to two month’s rent; if a tenant is 62 or older, the maximum amount is equal to one month’s rent. If a tenant turns 62 during the course of a lease, then that tenant is entitled to a refund of the deposit amount in excess of one month’s rent. A tenant in such a scenario is entitled to the excess amount, but must make a formal request for the refund to the landlord.

The Return of Security Deposits

One area in which tenants have a keen interest is the law governing the return of security deposits. Landlords must return a tenant’s security deposit within 30 days after the tenant has moved out (i.e. turned in keys or entirely vacated the property), or within 15 days of receiving a new mailing address – whichever date is the later of the two dates. Tenants are only entitled to their full deposit if the property is returned in the same condition in which it was accepted, minus normal wear and tear. This means that if a tenant causes significant damage to the property, the landlord has the legal right to use deposit funds to cover the repair costs.

Landlords Pay Interest on Security Deposits

One interesting aspect of Connecticut’s law on security deposits is tenant’s right to interest on deposits. This distinguishes Connecticut from many other states. Landlords must pay tenants interest on their security deposit, and the interest rate is intended to reflect the average rate earned from a savings account at a typical commercial bank. The State of Connecticut publishes tables on rates and provides other useful information for landlords and tenants on this issue. Interest is paid out annually, and tenants can either accept the interest as a direct payment, or as a credit toward the next month’s rent (if the lease is renewed).

Contact APEX Law to Learn More

The above discussion provides a useful overview of the law of security deposits here in Connecticut. There are other details not mentioned; in the future, we may return and explore some of these additional details. For now, if you’d like to learn more, or if you have a case involving deposits, reach out to the Apex Law Firm today by calling 860-900-0900 or fill out our Case Evaluation form at

Basic Points of Connecticut Housing Law

The law which governs landlord-tenant relationships (also referred to as ‘housing law’) is a complex branch of Connecticut jurisprudence. There are many statutes, local ordinances and regulations which apply to and govern landlord-tenant relationships in the State of Connecticut. Each section or topic within Connecticut housing law can be broken down and analyzed at considerable length. In this post, however, our goal is simply to convey the most basic concepts of this large body of law. We will look at a few of the major aspects of landlord-tenant law in Connecticut. In future posts, we will likely return and analyze one or more of these sections in greater detail. For instance, we may return and discuss rules pertaining to late fees under Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 47a-3a and 47a-4(a)(8) 47a-15a.

Landlord Disclosures

One aspect of Connecticut landlord-tenant law pertains to the disclosures which landlords are required to make pursuant to a lease or rental agreement. For example, landlords are required to disclose whether there is any known presence of lead on the property. Landlords must also provide tenants with information about where the tenant’s security deposit is being held and the account details. This of more often overlooked and few tenants are unaware of the requirement and fail to request such disclosure.

Security Deposits

Connecticut landlord-tenant law also lays out rules pertaining to security deposits. The law provides limits on the ceiling amount for security deposits, as well as the deadline for when deposit money must be returned to former tenants. The ceiling for security deposits in Connecticut is capped at two month’s rent. This includes a pet deposit where applicable. So, a landlord cannot ask for two months security deposit and a pet fee too. The deadline for returning security deposit money is the latter of either 30 days after move out or within 15 days of receiving the tenant’s new address. Security deposits must include any accrued interest paid on the balance.

Late Fees & Rights to Withhold Rent

Connecticut landlord-tenant law also governs late fees for rent, as well as tenant rights to withhold rent under certain conditions. For instance, under current Connecticut law, renters may withhold paying rent when certain repairs aren’t made following a request. For instance, if a heater breaks down and isn’t fixed, then this may furnish grounds for withholding rent. Or, tenants may conduct their own repairs to broken items and then subtract the costs from future rents. Connecticut law lays out the specific rules for these circumstances in detail, so a tenant should never just withhold rent before speaking with an experienced attorney or fully understanding the law.

Termination & Eviction

Connecticut law also gives particular rules pertaining to the termination and eviction of tenants. Certain actions (or failures) may provide grounds for termination or eviction, but landlords cannot simply terminate or evict a tenant for no reason. For instance, if a tenant behaves in a manner which violates a specific aspect of a lease agreement, then this may give grounds for termination. Or, if a tenant fails to pay rent, a landlord can serve a Notice to Quit which terminated the lease and allows the landlord to file an eviction to remove the tenant. The law pertaining to termination and eviction is vast, which makes sense because these areas are sensitive and deal with many controversial issues.

Contact Apex Law Firm for Additional Counsel

Again, this is merely a very basic introduction to the landlord-tenant laws of the State of Connecticut. As mentioned, this body of law is quite large, and so we will need to cover this law in at least a few more posts before our readers can really get a sense of how landlord-tenant rules operate. For now, if you’d like more information, or if you have a particular issue with a landlord or tenant at the present time, contact the Apex Law Firm today. Call us at 860-900-0900 and we can discuss your case right away.