HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- There are a lot of renters in Connecticut.
In fact, some estimates put the number around 34 percent of all residents.
Many renters contact the Ch. 3 I-Team with complaints about little or no heat, broken appliances, and missing deposits.
So, the I-Team did some digging to find out what rights and responsibilities tenants have in the state.
While renting a house or apartment is appealing to many people, it also means you have to deal with a landlord.
Joseph Sastre, a local attorney, said the first step in being a savvy renter is to read your lease carefully.
"There's no hard and fast rule that is going to work in every single situation, but the important things are to know what you're entitled to when you move in,” Sastre said.
According to the state of Connecticut’s Judicial Branch, landlords have a number of responsibilities, from keeping the common areas clean and well-lit, to making sure the plumbing and heating systems and smoke detectors are working, and providing a clean apartment when the tenant moves in.
However, what happens when something major goes wrong, like if there's an infestation of rodents or roaches, the heat isn't working, there's no hot water, or an essential appliance breaks?
Sastre says renters often complain about emergency repairs not being done in a timely matter.
"Sometimes you'll hear a landlord will say well my guy was away for the weekend, so he'll come on Monday when he gets back. That's not good enough,” Sastre said.
He said anything that is a safety issue or would make the place unable to rent needs to be fixed immediately.
If it's not, you can call a local housing code inspector to come out and take a look at the problem.
If you think the place is uninhabitable, Sastre says you could refuse to pay your rent, but he warns to proceed with caution.
"That's a serious step and if you take that the advice is always make sure the money is in the bank,” Sastre said.
Another issue that can arise with more minor repairs is a landlord entering your apartment at will. Sastre said tenants are entitled to privacy.
Landlords can't come in unannounced in a non-emergency and have to give you reasonable notice.
Otherwise, you can call police and it could be considered trespassing.
“Generally, the landlord can come in to make repairs but they'll have had to give you some advance notice. It's not fair to have the landlord just burst in on you,” Sastre said.
Lastly, security deposits are a common topic of discussion.
By law, the security deposit may not be any more than two months rent, just one month if the tenant is 62 or older.
After you move out, the landlord has 30 days to give you back your deposit plus interest.
If there's damage, they need to provide an itemized list of the money taken away to pay for the repairs.
If you dispute the charges, you have a few options.
You can call the ‘fair rent commission’ if the town you live in has one, you can file a small claims lawsuit, and you can always consult an attorney.
At the end of the day, Sastre says one of the best ways to protect yourself is to grab your cell phone and start snapping away when you move in, when you move out and everything in between.
"Take pictures, videos, we all have smart phones. This is one of the most important things we can do with them is document what the place looks like,” Sastre said.