What is the Eviction Process in Connecticut?
In order to evict a tenant in Connecticut, landlords must comply with certain legal procedures.
The failure to do so could result in serious problems — potentially, a landlord could face a lawsuit and financial penalties. Notably, with residential evictions, it is especially important that landlords strictly follow state law.
In this article, our West Hartford landlord/tenant lawyers and Middletown landlord/tenant lawyers provide an overview of the eviction process in Connecticut.
Your Guide to the Eviction Process in Connecticut
1. Landlords Must Give Proper Notice
Perhaps the most important thing that Connecticut landlords need to know about the state’s eviction process is that adequate notification must be given to the tenant before the landlord can move to evict them from the property. In some cases, a pre-termination notice is required. In all cases, whether or not a pre-termination notice is first required, the landlord will need to issue what is officially referred to as a ‘Notice to Quit (End) Possession’.
When providing a tenant with a Notice to Quit (End) Possession, the landlord must state the specific grounds for eviction and must state the date at which the tenant is supposed to vacate the property. There are also certain rules regarding the number of days to be given to vacate the property as well as certain rules regarding the process for/of service of the notice that must also be followed.
Once again, failure to provide this notice and failure to include sufficient information within the notice itself will prevent the eviction process from going forward. It is generally advisable to consult with a Connecticut eviction lawyer when crafting a Notice to Quit Possession.
2. The Summons and Complaint
After serving the Notice to Quit (End) Possession, the best case scenario for the landlord is if the issue is resolved without the need for legal action. Either the tenant fixes the underlying problem — for example, they pay all of the overdue rent — or, alternatively, they simply move out of the property.
If the tenant voluntarily acknowledges that the grounds for eviction are valid and they leave the premises on their own, then the landlord can reclaim the property. However, if that does not occur, then the landlord will need to prepare and serve an official summons and complaint. In other words, the eviction case will go to court.
3. The Eviction Hearing
In Connecticut, eviction hearings generally fall into one of two categories.
First, the tenant simply never responds to the summons or complaint and fail to show up to their court hearing. When this occurs, a default judgment can be entered in favor of the landlord.
Second, the tenant does respond. In that case, there will be a mediation and, if an agreement is not reached, a trial. During the trial, the landlord should be prepared to present a strong case showing the grounds for eviction and that all of the legal requirements were followed.
4. Execution of the Eviction
Once an eviction judgement is entered — either because the landlord obtained a default judgment or because the landlord won their case at trial —the tenant will be ordered to remove themselves and their possessions from the property within a date certain.
If they fail to do so, an execution may be obtained and a sheriff/marshal will be granted legal authorization to remove them and/or their property from the premises.
What Are the Grounds for Eviction in Connecticut?
Landlords cannot simply evict a tenant for no reason at all. To file for eviction, the landlord must have valid cause to remove the tenant from the property.
There are a number of different grounds for eviction under Connecticut law. Specifically, four of the most commonly cited grounds in eviction proceedings are as follows:
- Expiration of the Lease/Lapse of Time: Once a lease has expired, a tenant can be evicted. Generally, tenants who no longer have a valid lease will leave the property on their own. However, there are certainly plenty of cases in which disputes arise over this issue.
- Non-Payment of Rent: If a tenant has not made their full rent payments, they can be evicted. In fact, Connecticut allows for eviction to proceed somewhat more quickly when non-payment of rent is the grounds.
- Breach of the Terms of the Lease: If the tenant breached material terms of the lease, there may be good cause for eviction. These tend to be more complicated cases — landlords considering seeking eviction for a non-financial breach of the lease should seek guidance from a qualified attorney.
- Illegal Conduct by the Tenant: Finally, if a tenant is engaged in illegal activity that could be a valid cause to seek eviction. As an example, a landlord may be able to terminate a lease if they can prove their tenant is involved in a criminal drug operation.
Three Common Eviction Mistakes that Landlords Need to Avoid
Far too many Connecticut landlords make avoidable mistakes early on in the eviction process.
As a result, they may run into trouble when attempting to remove the tenant and reclaim full access to their property. As a landlord, it is crucial that you avoid making mistakes.
Three of the most common mistakes that landlords make in the eviction process are:
- Self-Help Evictions: Connecticut landlords should avoid self-help evictions. If you improperly enter a tenant’s unit and start removing their belongings from the premises, you could face a lawsuit. When evicting a tenant, always follow the proper legal procedures. Get professional legal help.
- Failure to Give Adequate Notice: As was mentioned, the strongest legal protection tenants have in Connecticut is the notice requirement. If a landlord fails to give official notice in the proper form, they could be prevented from evicting their tenant until they do so. Do not skip any steps in the eviction process and be sure to give the tenant proper notice.
- Not Building a Well-Supported Case: Finally, landlords should always take care to document all lease violations, including late payment of rent, underpayment of rent, and non-payment of rent. If an eviction makes it to a legal hearing, a landlord will be required to present a strong, compelling legal case.
Get Help From Our Connecticut Eviction Lawyers Today
At Stanger Stanfield Law, our top-rated Connecticut real estate attorneys and landlord/tenant attorneys have experience representing landlords in all aspects of the eviction process. If you are a residential landlord or commercial landlord preparing to evict a tenant, we are here to help.
To set up a completely confidential review of your eviction case, please do not hesitate to contact our law firm today.
From our offices in Middletown, Simsbury, and West Hartford, we handle eviction issues throughout Connecticut, including in Hartford, New Britain, Windsor Locks, Bristol, and Manchester.