When Is It Illegal for Landlords to Retaliate in Vermont?
It’s illegal for Vermont landlords to retaliate bychanging the terms of the rental agreementorthreatening an eviction or other lawsuitagainst tenants who have taken one of the following protected actions:
Complaining to the landlord or government about failure to safely maintain the property.
Participating in a tenant organization.
If the property is found violating a health or safety law and the landlord tries to terminate the rental agreement within 90 days of getting government notice about the violation, there’s a presumption the landlord is retaliating. In such a case, the landlord must prove the intention was not retaliatory.
What Can Tenants Do in Response in Vermont?
Vermont tenants can respond to landlord retaliation bysuing for damages and reasonable attorney fees.If a court finds the landlord retaliated, any attempted eviction will also fail.
“(a) A landlord of a residential dwelling unit may not retaliate by establishing or changing terms of a rental agreement or by bringing or threatening to bring an action against a tenant who: (1) has complained to a governmental agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building, housing, or health regulation of a violation applicable to the premises materially affecting health and safety; (2) has complained to the landlord of a violation of this chapter; or (3) has organized or become a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization.
“(b) If the landlord acts in violation of this section, the tenant is entitled to recover damages and reasonable attorney’s fees and has a defense in any retaliatory action for possession.”
“If a landlord serves notice of termination of tenancy on any grounds other than for nonpayment of rent within 90 days after notice by any municipal or State governmental entity that the premises are not in compliance with applicable health or safety regulations, there is a rebuttable presumption that any termination by the landlord is in retaliation for the tenant having reported the noncompliance.”