In Vermont, lease agreements can be either written or oral. According to Vermont law (VS Tit. 9 Ch. 137) this lease automatically grants the landlords to certain rights, such as the right to receive payment associated with damages that are beyond normal wear and tear and collect rent in a timely manner.
Tenants have rights as well, including the right to a habitable property and the right to seek out housing without discrimination.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
Landlord Responsibilities in Vermont
In Vermont, landlords are legally required to provide a habitable dwelling and must make requested repairs within 30 days of the request. If they do not, then Vermont tenants have the right to make the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from the following month’s rent or withhold rent entirely.
Here is a list of essential amenities that landlords are or are not responsible for.
Landlords are not permitted to evict tenants in retaliation for exercising their housing rights (i.e. filing a health and safety complaint).
Tenant Responsibilities in Vermont
Aside from paying rent in a timely manner, Vermont tenants must:
- Keep the unit in a safe and habitable conditions.
- Keep fixtures clean and sanitary.
- Comply with all building, housing and health regulations.
- Not deliberately or negligently destroy or damage any part of the premises.
- Perform small repairs and maintenance.
- Not disturb other tenants or neighbors.
Evictions in Vermont
Landlords in Vermont are empowered to evict tenants for the following reasons:
- Nonpayment of Rent – If a tenant fails to pay rent then the landlord may issue a 30-Day Notice to Pay. If the tenant does not pay within the timeframe, then the landlord may initiate formal eviction proceedings.
- Lease Violation – If a lease violation occurs, then the landlord may issue a 30-Day Notice to Quit. Landlords do not need to give tenants a chance to fix the issue. If the tenant does not meet the terms, then the landlord can pursue formal eviction.
- No Lease/End of Lease – If a tenant remains on the property after the rental term is expired, the landlord may issue a notice to quit. The amount of time required in the notice depends on the tenancy and if the lease is written or not:
- Week-to-Week (Written Lease) – 7-Day Notice to Quit.
- Month-to-Month (Written Lease) – If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis, and the tenant has lived in the rental unit for less than two years, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 30-Day Notice to Quit. Notice must be given at least 30 days before the end of the lease agreement.
- Month-to-Month (Written Lease)– If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis, and the tenant has lived in the rental unit for two or more years, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 60-Day Notice to Quit. Notice must be given at least 60 days before the end of the lease agreement.
- Week-to-Week (No Written Lease)– If rent is paid on a week-to-week basis, the landlord must provide the tenant with a 21-Day Notice to Quit.
- Month-to-Month (No Written Lease) – If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis, and the tenant has lived in the rental unit for less than two years, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 60-Day Notice to Quit.
- Month-to-Month (No Written Lease)– If rent is paid on a month-to-month basis, and the tenant has lived in the rental unit for two or more years, a landlord must provide the tenant with a 90-Day Notice to Quit.
- Sale of Rental Property – If the rental property is going to be sold, tenants must be provided with a 30-Day Notice to Quit.
- Illegal Acts – Illegal activities such as violent crime, criminal activity and illegal drug use can be grounds for a 14-Day Notice to Quit. Tenants must move out within 2 weeks or face formal eviction proceedings.
It is illegal for landlords to evict tenants as a form of retaliation and for discriminatory reasons.
Security Deposits in Vermont
- Standard Limit/Maximum Amount – None (may be limited by local ordinance).
- Time Limit for Returns – 14 days.
- Penalty if Not Returned on Time – If a Vermont landlord fails to return a security deposit, then they may be liable to pay twice the value of the deposit plus legal fees as a penalty.
- Allowable Deductions – Unpaid rent/utility bills, damages that exceed normal wear and tear, cost of removing abandoned items.
Lease Termination in Vermont
Notice requirements. If a Vermont tenant wishes to break a periodic lease, then they must give the following amounts of notice:
|Rent Payment Frequency||Notice Needed|
|Year-to-Year||60 Days (<2 years), 90 Days (>2 years)|
Early termination. Vermont tenants may legally break a lease early for the following reasons:
- Early termination clause.
- Active military duty.
- Uninhabitable unit.
- Landlord harassment.
Vermont landlords are not obligated to facilitate the re-renting of a unit. As such, Vermont tenants who vacate a lease may be required to pay rent until the remainder of the lease.
Rent Increases & Related Fees in Vermont
- Rent control. Vermont state laws neither prohibits nor enforces rent control. As such, Vermont landlords may charge what they wish in rental prices. The state also does now allow local jurisdictions to enact rent control policies without state approval.
- Rental increases. Vermont landlords are not limited in how much they can raise rental prices. However, they must provide at least 60 days’ notice before raising the rent.
- Rent-related fees. The state does not currently limit the value of late fees. However, the state does prohibit charging application fees.
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
Tenants who believe they have been the victim of housing discrimination may file a complaint digitally or over the phone. It is unclear whether the Commission has the authority to dole out punishments.
Additional Landlord Tenant Regulations in Vermont
Landlord Right to Entry in Vermont
Vermont landlords must give at least 2 days’ (48 hours) of prior notice before entering an occupied property. Landlords can also only enter between the hours of 9 am and 9 pm. Landlords are not required to get permission to enter during emergencies.
Small Claims Court in Vermont
Vermont small claims court will hear rent-related cases valued up to $5,000. Small claims courts will not hear eviction cases. All kinds of contracts (written or oral) in Vermont carry a 6-year statute of limitations.
Mandatory Disclosures in Vermont
Vermont landlords must make only one mandatory disclosure:
- Lead-Based Paint – Landlords in Vermont that own homes built before 1978 must provide information about concentrations of lead paint.
Changing the Locks in Vermont
Vermont law does not specify whether landlords or tenants may change the locks. As such, it is assumed that tenants may change the locks as long as the lease agreement does not prohibit it and they ask for permission. Landlords are not legally prohibited from unilaterally changing the locks on a tenant, though this practice is highly discouraged and may open landlords to liability.
Vermont Landlord-Tenant Resources
In addition to the below, check your local county and municipality for additional landlord tenant regulations. To learn more, please refer to the below digital resources.
Landlord Tenant Education Materials
Landlord & Tenant Judiciary Primers