Substandard Housing / Repairs / Health Department Complaints

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. 

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.  

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. 
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.


  • 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. 

Relevant Documents/Cases 
Tenants’ Rights:  Repairs/  How to use the Housing Code Enforcement Law (or Payment into Court)
List of some Housing Code Enforcement numbers