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Vermont Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations

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Vermont Landlord Tenant Law and Regulations

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Vermont Landlord-Tenant Law: FAQs

We have covered the most commonly asked questions on “Vermont landlord-tenant law“.

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?

Under Vermont landlord-tenant law, 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- https://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?

Under Vermont landlord-tenant law, 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:  https://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?

Under Vermont landlord-tenant law, 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?

Under Vermont landlord-tenant law, 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?

Under Vermont landlord-tenant law, 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.

How much notice does a landlord have to give a tenant to vacate the property in Vermont?

In Vermont, the amount of notice a landlord must give a tenant to move out depends on the reason for the eviction. If a tenant is being evicted for nonpayment of rent, the landlord must give a written notice to the tenant at least 14 days before the eviction date. If a tenant is being evicted for a lease violation, the landlord must give a written notice to the tenant at least 30 days before the eviction date. If a tenant is being evicted for no cause, meaning the landlord simply wants the tenant to move out, the landlord must give a written notice to the tenant at least 60 days before the eviction date. It’s important to note that tenants in Vermont have legal rights and protections, and it’s always a good idea to consult with a local attorney or legal aid organization if you have concerns or queries regarding your rights as a tenant.

To evict a tenant in Vermont, how long does it typically take?

The time it takes to evict a tenant in Vermont can vary depending on several factors, such as the reason for the eviction, the complexity of the case, and the court’s schedule.

If a tenant is being evicted for nonpayment of rent, the eviction process can be relatively quick. After the 14-day notice period has expired, the landlord can file a complaint with the court, and a hearing will typically be scheduled within a few weeks. If the landlord wins the case, the court will issue a writ of possession, which gives the tenant a certain amount of time (usually 14 days) to vacate the property.

If a tenant is being evicted for a lease violation or for no cause, the process can be more complex and time-consuming. The landlord must provide a longer notice period and may need to go through additional legal steps to obtain an eviction order. The court process can take several weeks or even months, depending on the specifics of the case.

Is Vermont a landlord-friendly state?

Vermont has laws and regulations in place that aim to balance the rights of landlords and tenants, and it could be considered a relatively tenant-friendly state.

For example, Vermont has laws that limit the amount of security deposit a landlord can require and require that the deposit be returned within a certain timeframe after the tenant moves out. Moreover, Vermont has laws that require landlords to maintain safe and habitable living conditions for tenants and prohibit landlords from retaliating against tenants who assert their legal rights.

However, Vermont also has laws that protect the rights of landlords, such as laws that allow for the eviction of tenants who violate the terms of their lease or fail to pay rent.

Overall, the balance of rights between landlords and tenants in Vermont is intended to be fair and equitable, with protections in place for both parties.

What are the habitability laws in Vermont?

In Vermont, landlords are required by law to maintain safe and habitable living conditions for their tenants. The following are some of the key habitability laws in Vermont:

  • Heat: Landlords must provide heating facilities capable of maintaining a temperature of at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit in all habitable rooms between October 15th and May 15th.
  • Hot Water: Landlords must provide hot water that is 110 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
  • Plumbing: Landlords must provide a working plumbing system, including toilets, sinks, and tubs/showers, with both hot and cold water.
  • Electrical and Lighting: Landlords must provide working electrical and lighting fixtures, with adequate outlets.
  • Ventilation: Landlords must provide adequate ventilation to prevent the buildup of moisture, mold, and other harmful substances.
  • Structural Integrity: Landlords must maintain the structural integrity of the building, including roofs, walls, floors, and ceilings.
  • Pest Control: Landlords must address pest infestations, such as rodents or insects, and make reasonable efforts to eliminate them.
How much can a landlord raise the rent in Vermont?

In Vermont, there is no statewide rent control policy, so landlords are generally free to raise the rent as much as they wish when a lease is up for renewal or if a tenant is on a month-to-month lease. However, there are some restrictions on rent increases under certain circumstances.

If a tenant has a fixed-term lease, which is a lease that specifies a set amount of time, the landlord cannot increase the rent during the lease term, unless the lease agreement specifically allows for a rent increase. When the lease term expires and the tenant moves to a month-to-month lease, the landlord may increase the rent with proper notice.

If a tenant is on a month-to-month lease, the landlord must provide at least 60 days’ notice before increasing the rent. Moreover, landlords cannot increase the rent as retaliation against a tenant for asserting their legal rights, such as filing a complaint about a habitability issue.

Vermont Landlord-Tenant Law: Landlord’s Responsibilities in Vermont

In Vermont, landlords are responsible for maintaining the rental property in a safe and habitable condition, making necessary repairs, and ensuring that all appliances and amenities are in working order. 

They must also comply with all state and local housing codes and regulations. They must also not discriminate against tenants based on their protected status such as race, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability. Landlords must also provide the tenant with a written notice before entry to the rental property, except in case of emergency.

 Additionally, they must provide a written notice of termination of tenancy or non-renewal of lease before the end of the tenancy, and must provide the tenant with a written statement of the condition of the rental unit at the time of move-in and move-out.

Landlord’s Rights in Vermont

According to Vermont landlord-tenant law, landlords have the right to:

  • Collect rent from tenants on the date specified in the lease or rental agreement
  • Terminate the tenancy for non-payment of rent or for violation of the lease or rental agreement
  • Regain possession of the rental property after the tenant has been given proper notice and has failed to remedy the violation or vacate the property
  • Enter the rental property after giving proper notice to the tenant, except in case of emergency
  • Seek legal remedies in case of tenant’s non-compliance
  • Raise the rent on the rental property with proper notice to the tenant
  • Retain a security deposit to cover any damages to the rental property caused by the tenant, or to cover unpaid rent
  • Screen tenants through background and credit checks

However, landlords must comply with all state and local housing codes and regulations, and cannot discriminate against tenants based on their protected status such as race, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability.

Tenant’s Responsibilities in Vermont

According to Vermont landlord-tenant law, tenants are responsible for:

  • Paying rent on time and in full
  • Keeping the rental property clean and safe
  • Informing the landlord of any necessary repairs or maintenance required.
  • Using appliances and amenities in a reasonable and safe manner
  • Complying with all state and local housing codes and regulations
  • Maintaining peaceful coexistence with other tenants by not causing disruptions or disturbances.
  • Not engaging in criminal activity on the rental property
  • Returning the rental property to the landlord in the same condition as when received, normal wear and tear excepted.
  • Notifying the landlord in writing at least 30 days before vacating the rental property
  • Paying any late fees or penalties specified in the lease agreement
  • Tenants also have the responsibility to not damage the property intentionally or due to neglect, not sublet the property without the landlord’s consent and not use the property for illegal activities.

Tenant’s Rights in Vermont

According to Vermont landlord-tenant law, tenants have the right to:

  • Quiet enjoyment of the rental property
  • Safe and habitable living conditions
  • Prompt repairs and maintenance by the landlord
  • Privacy in the rental property
  • Proper notice before entry by the landlord
  • A written statement of the condition of the rental unit at move-in and move-out
  • A written notice of termination of tenancy or non-renewal of lease before the end of the tenancy
  • Protection from discrimination based on their protected status such as race, national origin, religion, sex, family status, or disability
  • Protection from retaliation by the landlord for asserting their rights
  • Terminate the lease without penalty if the landlord fails to fulfill the obligations of the rental agreement
  • Have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their rental unit
  • A reasonable notice before the landlord can enter the unit.
  • Tenants also have the right to not have their utilities disconnected without proper notice and reason, and to not be evicted without just cause and proper notice.

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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