A Connecticut eviction process can differ from county to county, but they all more or less follow the same process:
Evictions depend a lot on the lease signed between the tenant and the landlord. This article details a summary for landlords to refer to when evicting a tenant. Alternatively, a landlord can ask an attorney for legal help if they wish to know more information about rent regulations and the eviction process.
The landlord cannot begin to file for the eviction process without first providing a written eviction notice that is up to par with the notice requirements dictated by Connecticut law.
1. Failure to pay rent or nonpayment of rent
The most common reason for eviction is the nonpayment of rent. A landlord can evict a tenant for not paying rent on time.
For tenants with a 1 week tenancy, rent is considered late in Connecticut 4 days past its due. An example of this is that if rent payments are due on the 20th and the tenant has not been able to pay rent by the 24th, then payment is considered late.
For other tenancies, rent is considered late 9 days past its due. For example, if rent payments are due on the 2oth and the tenant has not been able to pay rent by the 29th, then payment of rent is considered late.
A grace period may be given to the tenant if it is stated in the lease.
Before a landlord can start with an eviction action for late payment of rent, they must give the tenant an eviction notice called a 3-Day Notice to Quit. This informs the tenant and/or the renters that they have 3 days to comply with paying rent or vacate the premises.
Should a tenant be unable to comply with the timely payment of rent, then the landlord can continue filing for the eviction process.
2. Committing a lease violation
The lease/rental agreement terms vary from tenant to tenant. It outlines the responsibilities of each party for the entire duration of the tenant's stay. Both parties must uphold the terms of the lease at all times.
A tenant may face eviction for committing lease violations. Before a landlord can start evicting a tenant, they must provide a 15-Day Notice to Quit/Comply. This gives the tenant 15 days to resolve their violation or leave the premises.
Lease violations in a Connecticut eviction include:
- Damage to the rental unit
- Smoking in non-smoking areas
- Housing a pet in a pet-free rental unit
- Failing to comply with material/health safety codes
Examples of a material health/safety code violation include:
- Not throwing out trash for long periods of time, inviting bugs and/or rodents
- Damaging the electrical wiring of a unit
- Ruining the plumbing fixtures of a unit
Should a tenant be unable to resolve the violation within the notice period, the landlord may continue filing for an eviction lawsuit.
3. Conducting illegal activity
In the state of Connecticut, a tenant who has engaged in illegal activity on the rental premises can be tried in an eviction lawsuit. The landlord has to give the tenant a 15-Day Notice to Quit before filing for an eviction lawsuit.
Examples of illegal activity include, but are not limited to:
- Theft, violence, assault
- Being a serious nuisance
- Involvement in the creation, distribution, or consumption of a controlled substance
- Threatening the physical safety of the landlord and other tenants within the rental premises
If the tenant was convicted for prostitution or illegal gaming within the rental unit, then the landlord is not legally obligated to provide a written notice. If that is not the case, then the landlord may only proceed with filing an eviction lawsuit after the notice period expires.
4. Discontinued use of the rental property
The landlord could decide to take the rental property out of the rental market. This means they no longer want to rent it out.
If so, they must issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit before filing for an eviction lawsuit. The tenants have no choice but to move out if the landlord decides to discontinue the use of the rental property.
Should the tenant remain on the rental property after 3 days, then the landlord may continue to file for the eviction process.
5. Tenant does not accept rent changes
There are cases when the landlord decides to raise the rent prices for good reason. If the increase in rent fees is reasonable and clearly allowed in the lease, but the tenant refuses to agree to them, then the landlord must provide the tenant with a 3-Day Notice to Quit.
Should the tenant remain in the rental property after three days, then the landlord may continue to file for the eviction process against the tenant.
6. Rental property is to be used by the owner
Sometimes, a buyer may take an interest in the rental property but not wish for it to be rented out. Or the landlord changes their mind and decides they want to stay in the property instead.
For either case, the landlord must give the tenant a 3-Day Notice to Quit. Should the tenant remain in the rental property after 3 days, then the landlord may continue to file for an eviction lawsuit.
7. Non-renewal of lease after the end of the rental period
A Connecticut eviction process does not allow a landlord to file an eviction case against a tenant without good cause. As long as the tenant does not violate any rules from the lease, they can stay until their lease term ends. However, if the tenant becomes a "holdover" tenant, the landlord may begin filing for eviction proceedings.
A holdover tenant is someone who overstays their lease term without applying for a renewal. A landlord can evict a tenant who stays in the property even a day after their written lease ends (and has not arranged for a lease renewal).
This type of eviction only applies if the landlord does not want to renew the tenant's lease. The required notice is a 3-Day Notice to Quit regardless of the tenant's tenancy or lease type.
Should a tenant remain on the rental property even after their notice period ends, then the landlord may take the case to court to begin the eviction process.
Filing a Complaint
The next step in an eviction process is filing the summary process for eviction. The landlord must wait for the notice period to pass before they can start filing. The filing fees for the state of Connecticut are $175.
1. Steps in filing an eviction action
- Proceed to the Housing Court or Superior Court the rental property belongs to
- Fill out the court forms and hand them over to the court clerk. Ensure all information written down is correct.
- Pay the filing costs
It takes three days to fifteen days, depending on the reason for eviction, before a landlord can file a complaint.
Serving the Tenant
After filing a legal complaint, the next step in eviction cases is serving the Summons and Complaint to the tenant. The landlords must not serve the documents themselves.
The Summons and its supporting documents must contain information such as the date and time of the eviction court case.
Connecticut allows the marshal, constable, or any other officer to serve these documents. They must be delivered to the tenant at least 12 days before the eviction process proceedings are scheduled to begin.
1. How to serve documents to a tenant
The Summons and Complaint must be served through one of the following methods:
- Personal Service: The Summons and Complaint is served to the tenant in person.
- Alternative Service: A copy of the Summons is left at the tenant's place of residence. There is no need to mail a copy if the official chooses this service.
2. After serving the Summons and Complaint
According to the state of Connecticut's court system, tenants need to file an appearance with the court so that they may attend the eviction proceedings in court. This written answer serves to inform the court and the landlord that the tenant is aware of the eviction process.
Alongside filing for appearance, tenants must also file their written answer if they want to dispute the landlord's claims against them. They have 2 days from the date listed on the Summons to file for an appearance and a written answer.
Otherwise, the landlord can ask the court to make a default judgment in their favor without needing an eviction hearing. If the tenant only filed for an appearance without a written answer, then the landlord can still motion the court for a default judgment. The tenant is also served with this motion.
Should the tenant fail to respond to the Complaint 3 days after the landlord files the motion for default judgment, no hearing will be held, and the landlord automatically wins the case.
The Summons and Complaint must be served at least 12 days before the court case is scheduled. Tenants must file an appearance and a written answer within two to five days.
Asking for Possession
1. Filing a Motion to Obtain Judgment and get a Judgment for Possession
In order to receive a Judgment for Possession, the landlord has to provide a strong argument backed up by solid evidence against their tenants. Should the tenants fail to show up to the hearing or fail to file an appearance and a written answer, the landlord may win by default.
A tenant can appeal the judgment within 5 days of the Summary Possession Execution being issued in favor of the landlord.
2. Next procedure if the tenant disagreed and filed an answer
Filing an answer and an appearance is necessary for an eviction hearing to be held or scheduled. Should the tenant fail to file for an appearance and a written answer, the hearing is canceled, and the landlord receives default judgment.
However, if both parties are present, the landlord has to support their claim with evidence and show it to the judicial officer. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Copy of the deed and the lease/rental agreement
- Rent receipts
- Rent ledgers
- Bank statements
- Witness statements
- Photo and video documentation of the violations committed by the tenant
The tenant may counter these allegations during the hearing and provide their own evidence against the eviction process.
A hearing for an eviction action is scheduled after the tenant files for an appearance and a written answer. Once the court receives both of these, the hearing is scheduled within 7-10 days. A tenant can appeal the judgment within 5 days.
1. After the landlord wins the case and gets a Writ of Execution
Once the landlord wins the case and, provided the tenant does not file for an appeal or reconsideration, the court will issue a Writ of Execution 5 days after the landlord wins the case.
The Writ of Execution is a court order informing the tenant they must move out of their housing on the property or be forcibly evicted. According to Connecticut state law, tenants have 5 days to leave the rental unit of their own will before receiving the Writ of Execution.
2. Move out process
The final step in evictions is to move the tenant out of the apartment or dwelling unit. Connecticut law gives the tenant 24 hours to move out once they receive the Writ of Execution or it is posted on the rental household unit.
Should they remain inside the household premises 1 day after receiving the Writ, a law enforcement officer can forcibly evict them. The only exception to this is if the tenant has requested a stay of execution. The longest a stay of execution can be is 6 months.
Unless the evictions are something outlined below, any tenant can request a stay of execution as long as six months:
- The tenant was a severe nuisance
- The tenant was a squatter
- Nonpayment of rent
In cases involving non-payment of rent, a tenant may be able to request a maximum of 3 months for their stay of execution.
Only a law enforcement officer such as a state marshal may evict the tenant by force. A landlord cannot resort to a self-help eviction.
The Writ of Execution is issued 5 days after the landlord wins the case. The tenant must vacate the property within 24 hours after they receive Writ unless they request a stay of execution, which is an extra 3-6 months.
Connecticut Eviction Timeline
It takes an average of 4 weeks to 7 weeks for complete evictions in Connecticut.
Eviction hearings are scheduled within 7-10 days once the tenant files an answer, and the court receives it.
1. How to keep good records
If the tenant disagrees with the eviction request and they reply to the court, it’s important that you keep extremely good records of everything so you can provide proof to the judge and win your case. This part can make or break your entire eviction request in the event of a dispute.
You can stay organized by:
- Keeping a physical paper trail - This gets VERY hard to search through, takes up a lot of storage space, and could get lost, damaged, stolen, or burnt in a fire.
- Scanning documents - Scan every document into your computer. A great scanner is the Brother ADS-1700W for under $200 or the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 for $400.
- Backups - Store and backup every file using Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, or any other option that is easily searchable.
- PMS - Use a property management software to save everything from lease agreements, signed documents, violations, emails, notes, invoices, payments, reminders, maintenance requests, pictures, videos, and anything you can imagine. This is used best when you also scan every document into your software.
2. Evidence to show for not paying rent
If the tenant doesn’t pay rent, and they dispute that claim, it’s important that you show the judge the following:
- Your lease agreement - Showing the terms of the agreement, when rent is due, and any penalties for late payment.
- All payments - Showing all previous payments, how they were normally made (check, credit card, ACH, etc…), and what date they were normally paid on.
- Any payment returns - If their check bounced, their bank account had insufficient funds, or they did a chargeback dispute on their credit card, show this to the Judge. Also show any fees your bank may have charged you, and any penalties you are owed according to your lease agreement.
- All messages - If you sent your tenant automated or manual payment reminders by text, email, a letter, or mail, it’s important to show this. While it’s usually not needed, it’s still good to show that they were aware of the situation and were given time to cure and make payment. This is why it’s always best to have everything in writing instead of any phone calls or face-to-face meetings.
3. Evidence to show for lease violations
If you are evicting the tenant for lease violations, for example, noise complaints, unauthorized pets, or property damages, it’s important to show proof from any of the following methods:
- Security Cameras - If you have a surveillance system that can show them committing the crime or lease violation, it’s safe to say you will normally win this dispute.
- Video - If you didn’t catch them in the act, the next best thing is to record a video with your phone of any damages or the lease violation.
- Pictures - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, a picture could be worth thousands of dollars! Even if you take a video, it’s important to show the Judge any pictures too as it’s usually easier to see by email or printed.
- Lease Terms - Once again, show the court which term they violated in their lease agreement. Don’t worry if you don’t have every single term spelled out in your rental agreement. If the violation is bad enough, it might not be needed to have it written. As a good practice though, start adding all of the potential reasons to evict a tenant into your agreement.
1. What is a self-help eviction?
Examples of illegal “self-help” evictions include changing the locks, taking the tenant’s belongings, removing the front door, or turning off the heat or electricity. Many states specify how much money a tenant can sue for if the landlord has tried to illegally evict the tenant through some sort of self-help measure. Some state laws also provide for tenant's court costs and attorneys' fees (if the tenant successfully sues the landlord) and/or give the tenant the right to stay in the rental unit.
2. Can I force a tenant to move out in Connecticut?
In almost every state in the US, it is prohibited for a landlord to forcefully evict a tenant from the property. The tenant can only be removed from a rental unit after the landlord has successfully won an eviction lawsuit. Even then, the only person authorized to remove the tenant is a sheriff or constable. Connecticut law has made it illegal for a landlord to personally remove the tenant from the rental unit.
3. What are the potential penalties for a self-help eviction?
According to Connecticut Civil Code, you may be liable for Tenant’s Court Costs & Attorneys’ Fees. The statute also gives the tenant the right to stay.
A tenant can sue you for actual damages plus violations. Tenants may ask for an injunction which prohibits any further violation during the court action.
Can you kick someone out without an eviction notice in Connecticut?
No. A landlord could be sued for forceful eviction of a tenant if they skip the proper eviction processes. It is against Connecticut law to not provide a tenant with the appropriate written notice before proceeding with an eviction action.
In the state of Connecticut, tenants can sue their landlords for double the actual damages, and tenants can also receive a refund on the attorney fees. As an added consequence, the landlord may be found guilty of a misdemeanor for attempting this type of eviction.
Which eviction methods are illegal in Connecticut?
Self-help eviction is illegal. Examples of such acts include (but are not limited to):
- Cutting off the tenants' electric, water, and/or heat supply
- Changing the locks to prevent tenants from entering the property
- Vandalizing or destroying the tenants' property
What is a security deposit in Connecticut?
A security deposit is money collected by a landlord and held in their trust until a tenant ends their lease. In case a tenant damages the rental unit, the landlord uses the security deposit to pay for repairs. However, if the tenant does not owe the landlord any money once their lease ends, the security deposit is returned to them.
Charges for a security deposit can be as little as one month's rent to as much as two months' rent. A landlord can only charge a tenant who is older than 62 a maximum of one month's rent. For more information, check out NOLO's article on Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines.
What other Connecticut laws should I be aware of?
A landlord should be aware of any information regarding the COVID-19 Eviction Policies. Due to COVID-19, Governor Lamont has issued an executive order that called for an eviction moratorium and allowed tenants a lengthier grace period to resolve non-payment of rent without late fees.
Landlords must also check out information about laws on the Security Deposit they ask from the tenant. One needs to learn how these deposits can protect the landlord when there is unpaid rent or repairs.