If your apartment is subsidized by Section 8, RAP, T-RAP, Shelter Plus Care or DMHAS, or you live in subsidized public housing (i.e. housing funded by HUD, or the State of Connecticut which is managed by either a public housing authority or a private landlord) there are rules that you must follow in order to keep your subsidy:
- 1. First, you must comply with the landlord tenant laws and the provisions of your lease, like any other tenant.
- 2. In addition every kind of subsidized housing requires that you
- a. promptly report any changes in your income, and
- b. comply with their recertification procedures.
There are also rules that the agency that administers the subsidy or certificate must follow before they can terminate your subsidy. These rules give you the rights to
- 1. a meeting or hearing before your subsidy is cut off, and
- 2. to appeal the decision.
Housing subsidies come in many forms. All of them use your income to calculate how much rent you will pay, and how much will be subsidized. Most require that you pay 30-40% of your income, while the remaining 60-70% is subsidized and is paid by the funder.
The subsidies can be in the form of vouchers or certificates that you can use to rent an apartment of your choice:
- • Section 8 Housing Vouchers are funded by the federal (U.S.) government, administered locally, and can be used anywhere in the U.S. A.
- • RAP certificates are very similar to Section 8 vouchers, but are funded by the state of Connecticut, and can only be used in this state. Some RAP certificates are assigned to particular towns or particular programs (i.e. Shelter Plus Care) and cannot be moved. Others can.
- • DMHAS also funds housing for people who are ineligible or on a waiting list for other subsidies
Many housing authorities and housing complexes have subsidies (state and federal). These housing projects are usually funded by the federal government (HUD) but some are state and locally funded. The source of the funding will determine the specific rules that the property managers have to follow, but they are generally very similar. This kind of housing includes:
- • project based Section 8,
- • public housing authorities,
- • elderly and disabled housing
All of the subsidies are based on a percentage of your (the tenant’s) income and all of them require
- 1. that you (the tenant) provide information that can be double checked (verified) every year (recertification) and that
- 2. you immediately report any changes in income.
- a. If you report that your income has gone down, your rent will go down soon.
- b. On the other hand, when your income increases, your rent will increase.
- c. In most cases, your rent cannot increase without giving you 30 days notice.
- d. If you delay in reporting your increased income, you can lose that notice time, and worse, you can lose your subsidy altogether.
There are other tenant obligations in subsidized housing. (LINK). The ones mentioned here are the ones that could be avoided most easily that most often cause people to lose their subsidies.
If your subsidy is going to be terminated, you are entitled to receive
1. a notice,
- a. in writing,
- b. of what the reason is for the termination and
- c. you’re right to dispute the termination.
2. The notice should also tell you that you have a right to
- a. review the file
- b. question their witnesses,
- c. bring your own witnesses,
- d. offer your own evidence and
- e. bring an attorney with you.
Most notices give you about 10 days to request a meeting or a hearing. (The law is vague about whether a meeting is the same as a hearing, but it is clear that you have a right to a hearing.)
Finally, the hearing officer, who decides whether to uphold the decision to terminate your subsidy, cannot be the same person who made the decision to terminate, and cannot report to (be supervised by) the person who made that decision.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW RECEIVES SUCH A NOTICE, REQUEST THE MEETING OR HEARING RIGHT AWAY.
- • If you don’t request the meeting or hearing (in writing) you may lose your right to the hearing, and you will lose your subsidy.
- • You can go to such a meeting or a hearing on your own, but if you can arrange for legal assistance from CLRP or another legal services organization it is much better.
- • It is very hard to get a subsidy reinstated and much better, if possible, to avoid losing it in the first place.
- • Sometimes termination notices are based on mistaken information. Sometimes, they are based on reasons that are not sufficient reasons to terminate a subsidy.
- • You may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation that would allow you to keep your subsidy. See our pamphlet “Housing Rights for Persons with Psychiatric Disabilities #3 Reasonable accommodations.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW RECEIVES SUCH A NOTICE, CALL CLRP RIGHT AWAY.
What should you do if your apartment is in need of repair and your landlord has refused or failed to make the repairs? You have some choices, but do not withhold your rent! Do not repair and deduct the cost of repairs from your rent! If you don’t pay your rent, you can be evicted for nonpayment of rent, even if the apartment needs repair.
NO WITHHOLDING RENT.
Many people believe that it is permissible to withhold rent if an apartment is in bad condition. That is not the law in Connecticut. If you don’t pay your rent, no matter how good a reason you have, you can be evicted.
NO REPAIR AND DEDUCT.
Although in many states it is permissible to make necessary repairs on your rental unit and deduct the cost of those repairs from your rent, that is NOT the law in Connecticut. Here, you can be evicted for nonpayment of rent, even if you used your rent to make necessary repairs.
PAYMENT INTO COURT
But there are things you can do if
- there are repairs that need to be made, and
- you have asked your landlord to make them, and
- your landlord has either refused to do, or has agreed to do but hasn’t actually done them after a reasonable time,
- Housing Code Enforcement Law (or Payment into Court).
This is a procedure where you bring a case in court to force your landlord to make the repairs. You pay your rent into court and if the landlord does not make the repairs, the court will authorize the use of the rent money to pay for the repairs. Legal Services has an excellent pamphlet and materials on how to bring this kind of case. (LINK HERE). If you are eligible for services from CLRP, we may be able to assist you.
- The first step in a “payment into court” case is to make a complaint to your landlord. You should make either in writing (keep a copy of what you wrote) or in front of a witness (writing is better!).
- Then, if the landlord does to make the repairs, you must call the housing code enforcement agency in your town and make an official complaint. (Link here to a list I have attached)
- Finally, 21 days after the complaint is filed, you can begin your lawsuit. You should go to for a very complete explanation of all of the steps in this process. http://www.larcc.org/pamphlets/housing/tr_repairs.htm
- What if your apartment is subsidized by Section 8, RAP, Shelter Plus Care, DMHAS or with some other subsidy?
- If your apartment is being subsidized, you have the same rights as all tenants to a safe apartment in good repair. Therefore, you can file a “payment into court” case (LINK).
- In addition, most subsidy programs require that subsidized units pass annual inspections (HQS, or Housing Quality Standards, inspections). They also require inspections at other times if there is an important repair needed.
- You can request an inspection if there is a problem.
- If your apartment fails an inspection, the landlord has some time to make the repairs. If the repairs are not made, the agency that pays the subsidy (for example, a housing authority, or PHA) will stop paying its share of the rent (abate the rent).
- The landlord cannot evict you because the rent is “abated” because he did not make the required repair.
- If the landlord does not make the repair within the time allowed, the housing authority or agency may cancel its contract with the landlord. When that happens, you will have to move or lose your subsidy
If your landlord is failing or refusing to make necessary repairs, or if this is happening to someone you know, call CLRP.
Tenants’ Rights: Repairs/ How to use the Housing Code Enforcement Law (or Payment into Court)
List of some Housing Code Enforcement numbers