Rent Abatement – Tenants’ Rights: Repairs

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tenants rights repairs even if your apartment needs repairs you need to pay your rent on time every month if you don’t you risk being evicted first ask your landlord to make the repairs if that doesn’t work you can try to get the repairs made by bringing a housing code enforcement lawsuit also known as a payment into court action what’s a housing code enforcement lawsuit it’s your landlords responsibility to make sure your apartment needs state and local fire housing and health codes you may sue your landlord for not fixing problems such as peeling paint in your apartment plumbing electrical or heating systems that don’t work properly even if you pay for heat and hot water broken windows no smoke detectors and rodent or bug infestation when you file a payment into court action you pay rent to the court instead of to the landlord the judge can order the landlord to make repairs you can also ask the judge to refund some or all of the rent you’ve paid what must I do before I file a lawsuit step 1 ask your landlord to make the repairs you can do this in person over the phone or in writing if you do it in writing save a copy of your letter otherwise make sure you have a reliable witness with you if your landlord doesn’t make repairs continue to the next step step 2 contact the local housing code office or call your city or town hall and ask for the department that enforces the housing code make a complaint and an inspector will come to your apartment show the inspector everything that needs to be fixed right down the inspectors name if you don’t make an official complaint first you can’t take your landlord to court no matter how serious the problems in your apartment are step 3 if the problems have not been fixed within 21 days after you’ve filed an official complaint you can file a case in court how do I file a housing code-enforcement lawsuit you will be asked to pay various filing fees during the lawsuit if you can’t afford them the clerk can tell you how to ask for a fee waiver you’ll need to fill out two forms and notice a suit and complaint you can get the forms of the housing court clerk’s office or online fill out the forms and bring them to the housing court clerk’s office if you haven’t paid your rent for the current month bring your rent money with you bring cash or a money order as personal cheques are not accepted you will pay your rent to the court clerk for as long as your case takes once you start a lawsuit you must go along with what the judge says you can’t change your mind and get your money back the judge will decide what happens to the rent you pay if you miss a payment the court can dismiss or throw out your case what happens next the court clerk will send the lawsuit to your landlord by certified mail if your landlord doesn’t get the certified letter you’ll have to get a marshal to deliver the papers for you the clerk will usually schedule a hearing date within two weeks after the landlord gets notice of the suit the clerk will also send a copy of the lawsuit to the inspector who came to your apartment how do I prepare for the hearing the hearing is your chance to tell the judge about the repairs that need to be made and how you’ve been injured or inconvenienced by your landlords failure to make repairs when you get the notice from the court clerk telling you when your hearing date is scheduled ask the clerk to issue a subpoena to the code inspector this will require the inspector to come to the hearing and bring a copy of the report on your apartment the clerk can tell you how to give the inspector in the subpoena you may also bring pictures of the problem in your home and ask others to come to court to testify you may be asked to meet with a housing specialist before you see the judge the housing specialist will try to help you and your landlord reach an agreement if an agreement can’t be reached you can still talk to the judge what happens at the hearing you’ll be sworn in as a witness tell the judge if you’ve asked your landlord for repairs and what repairs need to be made in the apartment you can then ask the code inspector to testify and show the inspection report to the judge asked the judge to order your landlord to make repairs you can also ask for a refund of the rent you paid while the problems were being ignored by your landlord and you can ask the judge to order your landlord to pay you money for damage to your belongings what happens after the hearing after your initial hearing the judge may ask you and the Landlord to return to court to report on the repair work that was ordered don’t forget to ask the court clerk about your next court date if the repairs are not made you should tell the court the court might appoint someone else called a receiver to use the rent money to make the repairs at any time during your lawsuit you may talk to your landlord or to his or her lawyer and agree to a repair schedule put the schedule in writing and file it with the court where does the money go that I paid into court when the repairs are done and the lawsuit is over the distribution of the rent money that you paid into court will be decided by the judge or by an agreement that you make with the landlord if the judge is making the decision tell the judge why you think you should get summer all of the money the judge can decide to give either you or your landlord some or all of the money you paid into court can my landlord evict me if I file a lawsuit no as long as you pay your rent to the court clerk on time every month your landlord can’t evict you for not paying rent if your landlord sends you an eviction notice after you file a payment into court lawsuit you have a good defense against eviction can I file a lawsuit if the landlord has started an eviction action if your landlord has already given you a notice to quit you may not be able to file a payment into court action talk to a lawyer before filing your case if your apartment needs repairs don’t wait to get eviction papers make an official complaint and get your apartment inspected right away and remember don’t give up housing code violations in your apartment may give you a defense to the eviction for more information go to CT la help org if you need a lawyer call statewide legal services at one eight hundred four five three three three two zero

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