May 15, 2007
REMOVAL PROCESS WHEN THE RENTAL UNIT IS WITHIN THE LANDLORD'S HOME
By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney
You wanted to know the process for removing a tenant who rents a room in the landlord's home but is in arrears on the rent.
PROCESS FOR REMOVAL FROM SINGLE-FAMILY HOME
The process for removing a tenant for nonpayment of rent is the same regardless of whether the rental unit is a room within a landlord's single-family residence or an apartment in a multi-unit building. The landlord would have to evict the tenant through summary process.
If the person were a guest in the home, he would not be protected by summary process. To determine whether an occupant is a tenant or a guest, a court would look at whether he has exclusive possession over the space in question. Exclusive possession refers to actual control. To determine whether there is actual control, a court would likely consider the duration of the stay, whether the occupant has a permanent residence somewhere else, the nature of the occupancy agreement, the customary use of the premises, and the occupant's degree of control over an identifiable space (Bourque v. Morris, 190 Conn. 364 (1983) and State v. Anonymous, 34 Conn. Supp. 603 (1977)).
SUMMARY PROCESS PROCEDURE
The eviction process begins with the service of a notice to quit that states a statutory basis for eviction and ends with the return of the leased premises to the landlord either by a tenant's voluntary removal or his physical removal through the execution of a judgment for eviction.
Generally, the process is as follows.
1. Notice to Quit. The landlord must serve the notice to quit before a rental agreement is terminated (CGS § 47a-23).
2. Summons and Complaints. If the tenant does not quit possession by the date specified in the notice, any commissioner of the Superior Court may issue a summons and complaint to be served upon the tenant (CGS § 47a-23a).
3. Appearance. A tenant must respond to the summons and complaint by filing an appearance with the court. If the tenant does not file an appearance, the landlord may file (a) a motion for judgment for failure to appear and (b) an endorsed copy of the notice to quit with the court clerk. The court must then enter a judgment against the tenant and issue an order to vacate (CGS § 47a-26).
4. Answer to Complaint. In addition to filing an appearance, the tenant should file a summary process answer. If he does not, a landlord can file a motion for judgment based on failure to plead. And if the tenant fails to plead within three days after receipt of the motion by the clerk, the court must enter judgment against the tenant (CGS § 47a-26a).
5. Trial. A trial is scheduled after pleadings are closed (after the complaint has been answered and any special defenses have been raised and countered) (CGS § 47a-26d).
6. Judgment and Execution. A judgment is entered after the trial. If judgment is entered for a landlord, he must ask the court for an order of execution, which requires the tenant to move. After the court issues the execution, it must be given to a sheriff for proper service. The sheriff then serves the execution on the tenant. The sheriff is required to use reasonable efforts to locate and notify the tenant of the eviction date and time. After this period, the landlord can physically remove the tenant's possessions (CGS § 47-26d).
7. Stay of Execution. The law provides for an automatic five-day stay of execution. The tenant must file any appeal within this period (CGS § 47a-35). The court may grant an additional stay of up to six months if the tenant applies for it and proves, at a hearing, that he cannot find other suitable premises in the same town or an adjacent town (CGS §§ 47-38 and –39).
A landlord can file a motion for use and occupancy once a tenant files an appearance. Once the motion is filed, the court can order a tenant to pay the last agreed-upon rent to the court during the pendency of the summary of process action (CGS § 47a-26b).