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Must I register my rental property or myself as a landlord?

Each locale is different and every landlord should consult with their local housing department. For instance, owners of all rental units in Burlington, Vermont are subject to inspection including rental units within the city. The landlord is required to file an annual registration application and fee with the enforcement agency, which shall be due on or before April 1st of each year. For further information contact the Burlington, Vermont zoning office.

How much can I charge for rent?

Vermont does not restrict the amount of rent a Landlord is permitted to charge. Therefore, a landlord may charge whatever he/she feels necessary.  

 

How much is the maximum I may charge for an application fee?

This is not a permitted fee for the state of Vermont.

 

May I charge a late fee?

Landlords may only charge a late fee to cover expenses actually incurred as the result of tenant’s tardiness in paying rent. A late fee must be specified in the rental agreement.

 

May I charge a returned payment fee?

Any person submitting a bad check may be subject to civil and criminal penalties under the laws of the State of Vermont: Under Chapter 57, § 2311- http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=09&Chapter=057&Section=02311)

The landlord is entitled to a returned check fee of no more than $50.00.
 

Is there a limit on the amount I may collect for a security deposit?

In Vermont, the function of a security deposit is to secure the tenant's obligations to pay rent and to maintain a dwelling unit. There is no regulation on what may be charged for the security deposit with the exception of a few jurisdictions.

Some of these  jurisdictions such as Burlington and Barre DO limit the amount of the security deposit to an amount equal to one month and do require interest to be paid on the security deposit. Landlords should check with their local authorities for the requirements of their location.

 

After my tenant has moved, how long do I have to send the security deposit back?

The security deposit or balance after repairs must be returned to the tenant within 14 days from the date on which the tenant left the unit.  There must be a list of  itemized deductions if the entire deposit were not to be refunded. In the case of a seasonal occupancy, the security deposit and written statement shall be returned within 60 days. The full security statues are can be found in:  http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=09&Chapter=137&Section=04461

 

What is a common problem where security deposits are concerned?

Normal wear and tear items may not be repaired with security deposit monies. Making a checklist to differentiate repairables can help sort these items from, repairs needed due to tenant upkeep. The property must be evaluated and documentation of proof will help decipher expenses that can be deducted from the security deposit.

 

What are the rules for ending a Lease Agreement?

If there is a written rental agreement, the landlord may terminate a tenancy in accordance to the terms in the agreement.Where there is no rental agreement or there was one that is now expired, the landlord can legally terminate and evict a tenant for no reason at all. In this case, the eviction notice may be sent by ordinary mail or hand-delivered to the tenant.

Leases for two Years or Less: If rent is payable on a monthly basis, and the tenant has resided on the premises for two years or less, the notice must give the tenant at least 60 days from the date it is received to leave the premises.

Leases for two Years or Longer: If the tenant has resided on the premises continuously for longer than two years, the tenant is entitled to a 90-day advance notice before the termination date.

If rent is due weekly, there must be a 21 days notice before the termination date.  

 

My tenant has not paid rent, how may I proceed?

The landlord must provide the tenant with a 14 day written notice giving the tenant the option to pay or vacate. The notice must specifically state the amount owed, and that if the amount that is due is paid before the termination date, the tenancy will continue. A tenant may not defeat an ejectment (eviction) action in this way more than one time within twelve months. The twelve-month period commences from the day that payment is made.

 

My tenant has violated provisions of the lease agreement, how may I proceed?

The landlord may terminate the tenancy by giving the tenant at least 30 days written notice. The notice must specifically state what actions are the cause(s) for the eviction. If the termination is based on criminal activity, illegal drug activity, or acts of violence, which threaten the health or safety of other residents, the landlord may terminate the tenancy with 14 days notice. If the tenant does not comply, the landlord may file in court for possession and damages.  

 

How long does it usually take for eviction?

It depends and varies, but could take approximately two months, give or take a week or so, to obtain possession.

 

What must I do if I need to enter my property? Do I have to notify the tenant?

Once the landlord provides 48 hours notice; a tenant cannot refuse the landlord entrance to the rental unit in order to view, inspect, repair or improve the home. The landlord or landlord's contractors must be allowed to enter to perform necessary or agreed services and/or show the property to potential buyers. The landlord can enter the rental unit without notice in the case of emergency.

 

Do I have the right to enforce no smoking in my rental property?

A landlord may establish a “No Smoking” policy by providing so in the lease.

 

How do I tell if my tenant has “skipped” out of the apartment?

A tenant may be considered as to have abandoned a dwelling unit if:

(1) there are signs that the living unit is no longer inhabited as a full-time residence;

(2) rent is past due or not paid; and

(3) you made attempts to contact the tenant to verify their intentions.

Please Note: Even if a tenant abandons the rental property, they are held accountable for the remainder of rent until the final day of the lease. Should there be a lease with new tenants, then the tenants who abandoned will no longer be responsible for the rent from the time the new tenants start paying.   

 

If a tenant vacates the property what should I do with everything left behind?

When a tenant leaves the rental unit for any reason permanently and leaves items behind, the landlord must notify them by written letter and must send it to their previous known mailing address. Property excluding garbage and refuse must be documented and listed. Notification should be made that the landlord means to dispose of the remaining property after 60 days if no one claims the items. If any fees took place against the landlord for storage or any other reason, these must be presented along with the letter for reimbursement. The property that is left behind must be kept in a secure location safe from the elements and any other damage that could happen. If a tenant fails to claim the property within the time allotted in the notice, it will, then become the landlord's property to do with whatever he sees fit. If the tenant does claim the property, the landlord must make the property available to the tenant to be picked-up at a set place. 
 

Can I require my tenants to obtain renter's insurance?

Landlords may require tenants to obtain rental insurance, and could make the failure to do so a breach of the lease.

 

Aside from the lease agreement, are there any additional documents necessary?

If the leased premises was constructed prior to 1978, the landlord must provide all tenants with the Lead-Based Paint EPA Disclosure and the Lead-Based Paint EPA Pamphlet.

 

Disclosure: The information provided herein is intended as a general discussion of legal issues concerning landlord tenant law. Information provided is not legal advice or a legal opinion, and it is recommended that the reader seek independent counsel for any specific issue.

Further Vermont rental resources available, and Vermont landlord-tenant law questions can be asked in our state law forum.


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