Connecticut allows for the landlord and tenant of a single-family residence to execute a separate, written agreement outlining the tenant’s duties to perform some maintenance tasks that are the obligation of the landlord. The tasks are limited to the landlord’s obligations to provide for trash removal and for adequate amounts of water, hot water, and heat. In addition, the landlord and tenant can agree in writing that the tenant perform certain repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, or remodeling. Of course, the agreement has to be in good faith, must be in writing, and any work performed by tenant cannot be to cure a noncompliance with building or housing codes materially affecting health and safety or to keep the premises habitable.
Failing to provide essential services
All landlords are expected to provide heat, running water, hot water, electricity, gas, or other essential services to the premises, but if these services are not provided and if the failure to provide such services is not beyond the control of the landlord, the tenant can consider it a breach of landlord’s obligations. The tenant then has several options at their disposal:
- Obtain reasonable amounts of heat, hot water, running water, electric, gas, or other essential service and deduct the actual and reasonable cost of such service from the rent.
- Obtain reasonable substitute housing while the service remains lacking if the landlord fails to supply such service within two business days of the breach. The tenant is allowed to find substitute housing immediately (i.e. not wait the two business days) if the breach is the failure to provide the same service and such breach recurs within six months.
- In the case of a willful failure to supply an essential service, the tenant can terminate the rental agreement and recover up to two months’ rent or double the actual damages sustained by the tenant, whichever is greater. And if the rental agreement is terminated, the landlord has to return all of the security deposit and any prepaid rent and interest required to be paid.