Homeownership is a cornerstone of the American Dream. According to NerdWallet’s 2020 Homebuyer Report, 84% of people they surveyed said that buying a home is a priority for them.
With property prices surging in Connecticut, however, renting provides a more affordable housing option to those who are not quite ready to invest in a home. In fact, government data shows that about one-third of all housing units in the state are renter-occupied.
That said, buying and renting a house are both legal transactions. As such, Connecticut landlord-tenant law has provisions that protect your interests as a renter. If you’re thinking of leasing an apartment or home in the state, take note of these provisions:
While a landlord has a right to choose which tenant occupies their property, they can’t exclude applicants based on their:
- Race or nationality
- Marital status
This clause is enshrined in the Fair Housing Act, which is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The state’s Fair Housing Law also prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants due to:
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity and expression
- Source of income
Together, these tenants’ rights in Connecticut ensure that everyone has a fair shot at renting a property, free from the prejudices of landlords.
Tenants often have to pay a security deposit before moving in. This sum protects the landlord from an erring tenant who thrashes the place or unexpectedly skips town. However, the law limits the security deposit landlords can collect from a tenant. In most cases, the maximum amount is two month’s worth of rent; for tenants over 62, only one month’s worth is allowed. Moreover, the security deposit must be kept in an interest-bearing account within the state, with interest earnings paid yearly to the tenant. Should a tenant move out, landlords must return the deposit amount—minus reasonable deductions—within 30 days.
Since leases are legal contracts, rental terms must be stipulated to the renter. This includes crucial details like:
Due date. To avoid missed payments, tenants must know when their rent is due. Connecticut law prescribes that rents be collected at the start of the week or month, but landlords can adjust the due date according to when the tenant moves in. In either case, the deadline for payment must be written in black and white on the lease contract.
Mode of payment. How exactly should the tenant pay their rent? According to one study, the most common ways of settling rent are through checks (42%), cash (22%), money order (8%), and electronic means (8%). Be sure to ask your landlord which payment method they prefer before moving in.
Grace period. Landlords cannot evict tenants the moment the due date lapses. State law provides the latter party a four- to nine-day grace period, depending on whether their rental contract is weekly or monthly. Past this, landlords have the right to charge a late fee or begin eviction proceedings.
Rent increases. By law, landlords are not required to inform tenants of rent increases ahead of time. That said, they cannot increase rent in the middle of a lease—they must wait for the current contract to end before applying the higher rate. In line with the Fair Housing Act, landlords also cannot unduly raise rents to discourage protected classes from renewing their lease.
The basic tenet of a lease is that the landlord provides you a suitable dwelling in exchange for rent. Should your landlord fail to uphold their end of the bargain, you can withhold payment of rent. Of course, this is viable only if your landlord refuses to address serious habitability issues such as a malfunctioning heater or a pest infestation. You may also have the problem fixed and deduct the cost from your rent, provided your landlord agrees to this agreement.
Evictions must always be the last resort and they cannot be carried out without a court order. More precisely, your landlord must sue you in court and win before eviction can commence—even if you have unpaid rent. Until then, they cannot ask you to vacate your home, change your door lock, or remove your belongings.
We hope that by knowing these rights, you can get the most out of your lease. If you need help finding an ideal rental property in Connecticut, Fazzone & Harrison Realty LLC can help.
With our extensive portfolio of properties, we can match you with a rental that suits your needs and budget. Whether you’re looking for a cozy apartment or a single-family home, we’ve got you covered.