In order to understand how the eviction process works it is important to start at square one, the lease.

What is a residential lease? 

A residential lease is an agreement between an owner of a piece property and a tenant.  The lease gives the tenant the right to possess the property for the agreed upon time in exchange for payment of rent.  The landlord does not give up ownership of the property under the lease but does grant the tenant the right to peacefully enjoy the property while rent is being paid.

Types of Leases

There are two main types of leases, oral and written.  An oral lease results when a tenant moves into an apartment with the landlord’s verbal permission.  The terms of the lease are whatever the parties verbally agree to.  Connecticut statutes and case law fill in many of the gaps which might result from this type of less formal agreement.  A written lease differs from an oral lease only in that it is reduced to writing.  Often, written leases are more detailed than oral leases but both are enforceable in court.

Termination of the Lease

In the State of Connecticut there are four main reasons a tenancy can be terminated.  The first is nonpayment of rent.  This reason is self-explanatory, if rent is not paid the landlord can end the tenancy and retake possession.  It is important to note that Connecticut has a 9 day grace period for monthly rent payments.  Because of this, rent due the first of the month is not considered late on a monthly lease if paid before the 10th of the month.  However, for week-to-week leases the grace period is only 4 days.  The second is lapse of time, which occurs when the agreed upon length of the tenancy is over.  The tenant does not have to do anything “wrong” for this reason to be invoked they only need to be in the property longer than the parties initially agreed.  The third reason is violation of the lease terms.  This reason encompasses a wide variety of bad behavior by tenants, from excessive noise, to illegal activity, to allowing non-tenants to live in the property.  Generally, the violation has to be substantial before landlords will terminate for this reason but any technical violation of the lease can be grounds for termination.  The fourth reason for terminating a tenancy is that the individual never had the right to occupy the property.  This occurs when someone, perhaps a significant other or family member, moves into the property without the landlord’s permission.  That individual has no right to be in the property and can be evicted for that reason alone.  When the landlord does not know the names of these individuals they can be listed as John Doe or Jane Doe on the summary process paperwork.

Given the increasing numbers of people who rent rather than own their housing, leases are becoming a more and more important part of how living arrangements are governed in Connecticut and around the country.  For that reason you should always understand the terms of the lease you are signing both as a landlord and a tenant.