State Rules and Regulations for Vermont Rental Properties and Landlords
In Vermont, lease agreements can be either written or oral. According to Vermont law (VS Tit. 9 Ch. 137) this lease automatically grants the tenants certain rights, such as the right to a habitable dwelling and the right to seek out housing without discrimination.
Landlords also have certain rights, such as the right to collect rent in a timely manner and the right to deduct for costs associated with damages that exceed normal wear and tear.
Vermont Official Rules and Regulations
- Title 9: Commerce and Trade, Chapter 137: Residential Rental Agreements
- Rental Housing Health Code–Vermont Department of Health
- Renting in Vermont–Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO)
- Landlord/Tenant (renter)–Vermont Law Help
- Resources for Renters and Landlords–Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
Vermont Security Deposit Limit and Return
- Security deposits are defined as any advance, deposit, or prepaid rent which is refundable to the tenant at the end of their tenancy. The deposit functions as a way to secure the performance of a tenant’s obligations to the rental agreement, including paying rent and maintaining the property.
- Landlords may retain a portion or all of the security deposit for specific reasons.
- Nonpayment of rent
- Damage to the property, unless the damage is due to normal wear and tear or something beyond the tenant’s control
- Nonpayment of utility bills or other charges which the tenant was supposed to pay to the landlord or the utility company
- Any expense that occurs as a result of removing property from the rental that was abandoned by the tenant
- Landlords must return the security deposit with written notice detailing any deductions within 14 days from the date the tenant vacated the property with notice or when the landlord discovered the property was vacated or abandoned.
- For seasonal tenancies for properties that are not a primary residence, the landlord has 60 days to return the deposite and written notice of deductions.
- Landlords must hand deliver or mail written notices and security deposits to the tenant’s last known address.
- Landlords who fail to meet the 14 day deadline forfeit their right to withhold any portion of the security deposit.
- If a landlord’s interest in the property is terminated, the security deposit is transferred to the new landlord. The new landlord must give the tenant written notice of their name and address, along with a statement that the security deposit funds have been transferred.
Lease, Rent & Fees Under Vermont Law
- Rent is Due: Rent is due without demand or notice on a date and location the parties agree to. (9 V.S.A. § 4455(a)).
- Payment Methods: No statute.
- Rent Increase Notice: Landlords must give 60 days’ notice before increasing rent (9 V.S.A. § 4455(b)).
- Late Fees: There is no state statute regarding late fees. However, the 1991 Vermont Supreme Court ruling in Highgate Associates, Ltd. v. Lorna Merryfield established a prohibition against late fees that are charged as penalties. Late fees charged as actual compensation for costs incurred by the landlord as a result of late rent payments are the only acceptable situations in which a late fee can be charged.
- Application Fees: Application fees are prohibited by state law (9 V.S.A. § 4456(a)).
- Prepaid Rent: No statute.
- Returned Check Fees: No statute.
- Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes. Tenants can withhold rent for major health code violations after they’ve given notice to the landlord regarding the violation and the landlord has not made the necessary repair or alteration. Tenants can also seek injunctive relief and recover damages, costs and reasonable attorney’s fees (9 V.S.A. § 4458).
- Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: If landlords fail to make minor repairs within 30 days of being notified of the need for the repair by the tenant, tenants can conduct the repairs and deduct the cost from the monthly rent. The deduction cannot exceed one-half of a month’s rent. The tenant must provide the landlord with information regarding the cost of the repair when rent is being deducted (9 V.S.A. § 4459(a)).
- Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes (9 V.S.A. § 4456(e)).
- Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Re-rent: Yes. See “Breaking a Lease” in Renting in Vermont for more information.
Housing Discrimination in Vermont
Protected groups. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, familial status, or disability. These rules do not apply to owner-occupied homes or homes run by religious organizations. Vermont state law adds additional protections for tenants on the basis of marital status, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, and receipt of public assistance.
Discriminatory acts & penalties. Housing discrimination cases in Vermont are handled by the Vermont Human Rights Commission. The Commission has highlighted the following behaviors as potentially discriminatory when directed at a member of a protected group:
- Refusing to rent or negotiate housing
- Falsely denying unit availability
- Showing different rental units to viewers
- Steering prospective renters into certain neighborhoods
- Requiring different types of documentation
- Refusing to engage in certain lending practices
- Offering different terms, conditions, or privileges
- Advertisements that indicate a discriminatory preference
Notices and Entry Under Vermont Law
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: There is nothing in statute, but typically, no notice is needed since the lease simply expires.
- Notice to Terminate Any Periodic Lease of a Year or More: In the case of no-cause evictions for tenancies of two years or more, at least 90 days is required (9 V.S.A. § 4467(c)(1)(B)). In the case of no-cause evictions for tenancies of two years or less, at least 60 days’ notice is required (9 V.S.A. § 4467(c)(1)(A))
- Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Month-to-Month: At least 30 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(e)).
- Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Week-to-week: 21 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(c)(2)).
- Notice to Terminate Lease due to Sale of Property: 30 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(d)).
- Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute.
- Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: 14 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(a)).
- Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: 30 days notice for lease violations; 14 days notice if the eviction notice is due to criminal activity (9 V.S.A. § 4467(b)(1) and (2)).
- Required Notice before Entry: 48 hours, and the landlord is only allowed to enter the rental unit between the hours of 9am and 9pm (9 V.S.A. § 4460).
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes (9 V.S.A. § 4460).
- Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (9 V.S.A. § 4460).
- Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute.
- Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute.
- Lockouts Allowed: No statute.
- Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No. See the Vermont Department of Health’s Rental Housing Health Code, Section 12.1.2.
Eviction Process in Vermont
If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a 14 day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and that the rental agreement shall be terminated if rent isn’t paid within 14 days. If the rent is paid within seven days, then tenancy shall continue. [VT 4467.(a)]
If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement in a *significant manner, the landlord can send the tenant a written 30 day notice to terminate the tenancy. [VT 4467.(b)(1)]
Similarly if the tenant fails to perform his or her duties (as required by Vermont landlord tenant law) in a *significant manner, the landlord can also send the tenant a written 30 day notice to terminate the tenancy.
If the tenant (or tenant’s occupant or tenant’s guest) engaged in illegal activity or threatened the health and safety of others on the property, the landlord can also send the tenant a written 14 day notice to terminate the tenancy. [VT 4467.(b)(2)]
- Business License required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
State Agencies & Regulatory Bodies
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development–Vermont
- Vermont Housing Finance Agency
- Vermont Consumer Services
- Vermont Department of Financial Regulation
- Vermont Department of Financial Regulation–Insurance Division
- Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development–Housing
- Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
- Vermont State Housing Authority
- Bennington Housing Authority
- Brattleboro Housing Partnerships
- Burlington Housing Authority
- Hartford Housing Authority
- Montpelier Housing Authority
- Rutland Housing Authority
- Springfield Housing Authority
- Winooski Housing Authority