Vermont Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Vermont Security Deposit Returns and Deductions

Last Updated: January 31, 2024 by Phil Ahn

Quick Facts Answer
Acceptable Deductions Unpaid rent, utilities, late fees

Costs of damage

Costs to remove abandoned property

Cleaning costs

Return Deadline 14 days
Itemized Deductions Required
Penalty for Late Return 2x Deposit + Court Costs + Attorneys’ Fees

For laws on security deposit collections and holdings in Vermont, click here.

Security Deposit Deductions in Vermont

In Vermont, the following can be deducted from security deposits:

  • Unpaid rent, utilities, and late fees
  • Costs of damage excluding normal wear and tear
  • Costs to remove abandoned property
  • Cleaning costs

Most states, such as Vermont, do not have a legal limit on how much a landlord can charge for damages except that the charges must be reasonable.

If the cost of the damages exceeds the amount of the security deposit, landlords are entitled to seek additional damages from the former tenant.

What is Considered Normal Wear and Tear in Vermont?

Vermont defines “Normal Wear and Tear” as “deterioration that occurs, based upon the reasonable use for which the rental unit is intended, without negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises or equipment or chattels by the tenant or members of his or her household or their invitees or guests.”

Examples include:

  • Lightly scratched glass
  • Faded flooring
  • Lightly dirtied grout
  • Loose door handles
  • Stained bath fixtures

Damage” is not defined by Vermont state law, but is generally understood to mean destruction to the rental unit that occurs because of abuse or negligence by a tenant.

Examples include:

  • Heavily stained, burned, or torn carpets
  • Broken tiles or windows
  • Holes in the wall
  • Missing fixtures

Can the Landlord Charge for Replacing the Carpet in Vermont?

Landlords can charge for replacing the carpet if it is damaged beyond normal wear and tear.


A carpet that is slightly discolored or gently worn will be considered normal wear and tear. A carpet with visible stains, major discoloration and rips will be considered excessively damaged.

Can the Landlord Charge for Nail Holes in Vermont?

Landlords can charge a tenant for nail holes if they damage the walls in a way that is not a result of ordinary enjoyment of the rental unit.

Tenants have the right to use the walls within their unit in a reasonable way. This includes inserting small nails or thumbtacks to hang posters or pictures.

However, large holes from drilling, multiple nail holes, large nail holes, and holes made for hanging heavier things may be considered damage and thus, chargeable to the tenant.

Can the Landlord Charge a Cleaning Fee in Vermont?

Vermont law allows landlords to charge for the reasonable costs of cleaning limited to bringing the unit back to its original condition at the start of the lease, excluding normal wear and tear.

Can the Landlord Charge for Painting in Vermont?

Landlords in Vermont can charge for painting, except for normal wear and tear. For example, if the tenant:

  • Causes damage beyond normal wear and tear
  • Repaints the wall but is not permitted to do so under the lease agreement
  • Repaints the wall in an unprofessional way

Normal wear includes:

  • Minor scrapes from daily use
  • Fading due to sunlight
  • Minor cracks in the original paint

Landlords can charge for repainting if the damage is not the result of normal use. This includes stains, large or deep scratches, and water damage.

Can a Security Deposit Be Used for Last Month’s Rent in Vermont?

Vermont law does not forbid the security deposit from being used for any outstanding rent.

Landlords can include a provision in the lease agreement that the security deposit cannot be used for the last month’s rent until the tenant vacates the rental unit.

Security Deposit Returns in Vermont

Landlords must return a security deposit by mail or hand-delivery with an itemized statement of deductions, if any, to the tenant’s last-known address no later than 14 days after the tenant vacates the rental unit.

How Long Do Landlords Have to Return Security Deposits in Vermont?

Vermont landlords have 14 days after the tenant vacates the rental unit to return any unused portion of the security deposit.

If a tenant abandons a rental unit without giving notice, the landlord must return the security deposit within 14 days of learning that the tenant vacated.

Do Landlords Owe Interest on Security Deposits in Vermont?

Unlike in some states, such as New Jersey, landlords in Vermont do not owe interest on security deposits.

However, Burlington landlords are required to provide interest on held security deposits. The minimum rate is equal to the current interest provided by a Vermont bank passbook savings account.

How Do Landlords Give Notice in Vermont?

Written notice must be mailed or hand-delivered to the tenant’s last-known address and must include the amount of the security deposit due, if any, to the tenant, plus an itemized statement of deductions.


In Burlington, the security deposit return letter must state that the tenant has the right to request a hearing before the Burlington Housing Board of Review within 30 days of receiving the written notice.

Security Deposit Disputes in Vermont

If landlords do not return the security deposit within the 14-day period, tenants can file for damages in court up to twice the amount of the deposit  plus court costs and attorneys’ fees.

To recover the full amount of damages, tenants need to prove that the landlord’s failure to return the security deposit or written statement of deductions was intentional.

Tenants can also take legal action against a landlord for:

  • Failure to provide an itemized statement when deductions are made
  • Unreasonable deductions

How Can Tenants File a Dispute for a Security Deposit in Vermont?

If a landlord fails to return the security deposit, the tenant can file a dispute in Small Claims Court if the amount of damages is less than $5,000. If the amount is greater, the tenant must file a regular civil case.


If the rental unit is in Burlington, you can request a free hearing before the Housing Board of Review. However, the request must be filed within 30 days of receiving written notice from the landlord. You may be able to resolve your dispute without going to Small Claims Court.

A small claims case must be filed within 6 years. An attorney is not required but permitted. Cases are filed in the county where the property is located. The filing fee is $65 or $90 depending on your claim amount.