Connecticut Tenant's Rights After Landlord Retaliation

Protecting Tenants After a Landlord Retaliates

Connecticut wants to keep the peace between landlords and tenants. Therefore, they have put into place laws that will make it illegal for landlords to take certain actions against their tenants. These laws are meant to dissuade landlords from taking prohibited actions against their tenants and to allow the tenants to recognize if they are a victim of a retaliatory act. Here are a tenant’s rights in Connecticut after landlord retaliation.

Connecticut Tenant Actions That Could Trigger Retaliation

Tenants pay rent to live in a unit that meets certain health and safety standards. If the rental is not living up to these standards, then the tenant has a right to complain about it. Just because the tenant has the legal right to make the complaint does not mean the landlord has to be pleased about the complaint. Here are some tenant actions which could trigger landlord retaliation:

  • The tenant has contacted a local, state, public or other agency about a substantial maintenance, building or safety violation at the property.

  • A local, state, public or other agency has notified the landlord or issued a violation to the landlord as a result of a tenant’s complaint.

  • The tenant has contacted the fair rent commission about a possible violation.

  • The tenant has contacted the landlord to make substantial repairs or for a maintenance request to restore the unit to a habitable condition or remedy a health or safety issue.

     

    • The tenant has instituted an action in court over the landlord’s failure to perform required landlord duties.

     

    • The tenant has joined or organized a tenant’s union

    Acts That Could Be Considered Landlord Retaliation in Connecticut

    When a tenant performs an action that a landlord does not approve of, the landlord may try to take an action to get back at the tenant.

    While the landlord’s action may be legal under normal circumstances, the intention of retaliation behind the action will make the action illegal. Examples of landlord actions that could be considered acts of retaliation include:

    • Increasing a Tenant’s Rent
    • Decreasing Services to the Tenant
    • Taking Action to Recover Possession of the Unit- This act for possession is known as a retaliatory eviction and it is illegal.
    • Failing to Make Necessary Repairs
    • Failing to Address Necessary Maintenance
    • Changing the Locks on the Tenant’s Doors and Common Area Doors
    • Removing the Tenant’s Belongings From the Unit
    • Harassing the Tenant to Try to Get Them to Move

    Time Frame for Act to Be Considered Retaliation in Connecticut

    An act such as raising a tenant’s rent is not an illegal act in and of itself. This act is only illegal if the landlord increases the rent as retaliation for a tenant’s action, such as a tenant complaining to the Department of Health about the condition of their unit. However, if the tenant made this complaint two years ago and the landlord raised the tenant’s rent two years after the complaint, would the tenant be able to claim an act of retaliation?

    The answer to this question is no. In the state of Connecticut, there is a time limit for an action by a landlord to be considered an act of retaliation.

    The time limit is six months from the date of the tenant’s complaint or other action. Therefore, if this same tenant had complained to the Department of Health five months ago and the landlord raised the tenant’s rent five months after the complaint, the rent increase would be considered an act of retaliation.

    Exception to Act for Possession as Retaliation

    Even if a landlord’s action for possession of the rental unit occurs within six months of a tenant’s complaint or other action, it is not always considered an act of retaliation. There are certain situations where a landlord is legally allowed to file to recover possession even if it occurs within this six month time frame.

    Here are five situations where a landlord can recover possession without being classified as retaliation:

    1. The tenant is using the unit for an illegal activity or another purpose that is in violation of the lease agreement.

    2. The tenant has not paid their rent.

    3. The landlord wants to recover possession of the unit so that he or she can actually live in that rental unit.

    4. The condition that the tenant complained about was caused, deliberately or through negligence, by the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household or by a guest of the tenant.

    5. The landlord gave the notice to terminate tenancy before the tenant’s complaint or other action.

    Exception to Increasing Rent as Retaliation

    Usually, if a landlord increases a tenant’s rent within six months of a tenant’s complaint or other action, this rent increase will be considered an act of retaliation. However, there are certain situations where a rent increase would not be considered retaliatory, even if it is within this six month period.

    Here are two times when a landlord can increase a tenant’s rent without it being classified as retaliation.

    1. The condition that the tenant complained about was caused by the deliberate or negligent act of the tenant, a member of the tenant’s household or a guest of the tenant.

    2. There has been a substantial increase in the property taxes or other maintenance or operating costs which the landlord is responsible for paying. This increase must have taken place within four months of the landlord giving the tenant notice of the rent increase. In addition, the amount of the tenant’s rent increase cannot be more than the tenant’s prorated portion. For example, if the landlord’s yearly taxes increases by $1,000, and the landlord has two tenants, then the maximum amount the landlord could raise each tenant’s rent in a year would be $500 or a little more than $41 dollars a month.

    Connecticut’s Law on Landlord Retaliation

    If you would like to view the original text of Connecticut’s laws on landlord retaliation, please consult Connecticut General Statutes Annotated §§ Sec. 47a-20 - Sec 47a-20a. and Sec. 47a-33.