In the Green Mountain State of Vermont, landlords and tenants face a complex web of local and state rental laws that determine their rights and responsibilities and significantly shape their interactions. Understanding and adhering to these regulations can be daunting, even for experienced landlords and tenants.
To help navigate this challenge, we've created this comprehensive guide to address critical rental topics such as tenant screening, rent payments, rental agreements, evictions, and more. Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, this guide will equip you with a thorough understanding of Vermont's rental laws, as outlined under Vermont Statutes Title 9 Chapter 137.
Landlords will discover strategies to protect their rental properties and build positive tenant relationships, while tenants will gain the knowledge needed to assert their fundamental rights.
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Vermont law provides landlords with basic rights that let them to manage their rental properties protected from legal and financial issues. A few of their key rights include:
Vermont rental owners also have a set of duties to uphold that ensure a safe and smooth tenancy for renters. Their key obligations are as follows:
Vermont state law also grants tenants a set of rights that protect their well-being and safety while living in a rental property. Renters’ main rights include:
Similar to landlords, Vermont renters have a range of responsibilities to uphold during their tenancy. These duties, generally, ensure the rental unit is maintained and the landlord goes financially unharmed. In Vermont, tenants must:
Under Vermont Statutes § 4456a, landlords are prohibited from charging prospective tenants any type of rental application fee. However, landlords may charge tenants for the cost of running background checks. It’s also important to note that landlords cannot ask any questions on the application that can lead to housing discrimination.
Utah landlords are allowed to run background checks like credit reports, rental and eviction history, and criminal history, but must first obtain the potential renter’s consent in writing.
Vermont accepts both oral and written lease agreements. While oral agreements are as binding as written agreements, they do not provide written proof of the lease terms, such as the tenant’s and the landlord’s responsibilities.
All Vermont leases should include information like the landlord’s name, address, and phone number, along with the rent amount and due date, lease length, and description of the rental unit. Learn what else you should include in a lease agreement!
To terminate a lease in Vermont, tenants must provide a 21-day notice for week-to-week leases and a 30-day notice for month-to-month tenancies. Year-to-year leases, where the tenant has lived in the unit under 2 years, must provide a 60-day notice, while tenants who have lived there over 2 years, must provide 90 days’ of notice.
Tenants in Vermont may terminate a lease agreement early for the following reasons:
Vermont rental owners can collect a security deposit at the start of a lease to cover unexpected costs at the end of the tenancy. Like several other states, Vermont does not limit how much a landlord can charge for the security deposit. It’s important to note that Vermont allows its cities and states to set their own security deposit regulations.
At the end of the lease, landlords must return the tenant’s security deposit within 14 days. Landlords may make deductions from the security deposit for reasons including damage exceeding normal wear and tear, cleaning costs, costs to remove abandoned property, and unpaid rent, utilities, and late fees.
If the landlord fails to comply with the notice period or wrongfully withholds funds, tenants can sue for double the amount of the security deposit plus court and attorney fees.
While the state of Vermont does not have rent control laws, it doesn’t prohibit its cities and towns from creating their own rent regulations. In areas with no rent control, landlords may charge any amount of rent and increase rent as often as they choose. However, they cannot increase rent during the lease period unless the lease specifically allows for it. Before increasing rent, landlords must provide a 60-day notice.
If a tenant fails to pay rent on time, landlords are not required to provide a grace period before instating a late fee. While there is no limit on late fees, they must be reasonably related to the cost to the landlord.
After getting written notice from tenants, landlords must make repairs within a “reasonable” amount of time.
If landlords fail to make repairs in a timely manner, tenants can take several legal actions: sue for costs, file a court order to force the landlord to make repairs, and cancel the lease agreement. They can also utilize the “repair and deduct” remedy in which they make repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the following rent payment.
Vermont landlords can enter rentals for reasons including showings, repairs and maintenance, and inspections. Unless for an emergency, they must provide 48 hours’ notice before entering the property. Generally, landlords should only enter during reasonable hours.
Vermont allows landlords to evict tenants for specific legal reasons. Depending on the reason for eviction, landlords must provide a notice period before the eviction process can start. Here are the reasons for eviction and associated notice periods:
In Vermont, on top of covering rental matters like repairs and evictions, state law also covers topics such as landlord retaliation and discrimination. Let's explore some of these regulations in more detail below.
Both state and federal laws protect Vermont tenants from housing discrimination. Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, landlords are prohibited from discriminating against renters based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Vermont state law further protects renters from discrimination based on characteristics including age, marital status, and public assistance status.
If a landlord violates housing discrimination laws, such as by advertising that has a discriminatory preference or falsely claiming a rental unit is unavailable, tenants can seek legal help and file a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission.
Like in most US states, it’s illegal for Vermont landlords to retaliate against tenants for taking protected actions like reporting landlords to government authorities for health and safety violations. Changing the terms of the lease agreement and threatening an eviction are both considered forms of retaliation in the state.
Vermont law requires landlords with rental units built before 1978 to provide tenants with a lead-based paint disclosure. This disclosure provides information on lead-based paint concentrations found in the home.
Vermont's rental laws were established to offer a clear framework that delineates the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants. By comprehending and following Vermont's regulations, rental owners and their counterparts can confidently navigate the complete rental process. Landlords can safeguard their real estate investments, tenants can assert their fundamental rights, and both parties can work together to cultivate a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship.
Landlords, if you need help with collecting rent or creating a lease agreement, and tenants, if you are looking to boost your credit, Azibo has got you covered. Learn about all of the benefits of using our free rental software today!
Vermont’s Small Claims Court handles disputes involving small amounts of money, allowing cases to be handled in an expedited and simplified manner void of a lawyer. Vermont Small Claims Court will hear rental cases up to $5,000. The process takes approximately three to four months depending on the circumstances.
Vermont is not generally considered a landlord-friendly state. This is because the state has strict notification policies and eviction rules. Additionally, landlords must provide more amenities at the property compared to other states. Vermont is also known as having one of the highest property tax rates in the country.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.
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