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.
Note: These rights exist regardless of a rental agreement stating otherwise.
In addition to the below, check your local county and municipality for additional land-lord tenant regulations.
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 future rental payments 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
- 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 or Quit. 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 have to give a chance for the tenants to fix the issue, although it is customary to do so. If the tenant does not meet the terms, then the landlord can pursue formal eviction.
- Illegal acts – Illegal activities such as violent crime and illegal drug use can be grounds for a 14-Day Unconditional Notice to Quit. Tenants must move out within 2 weeks or face formal eviction proceedings.
At-will tenants in good standing are entitled to at least 60 days’ notice if they have been renting for less than 2 years and 90 days’ notice if they have been renting for more than 2 years. 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 1 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
To learn more, please refer to the below digital resources.