Vermont Small Claims Court Process

Vermont Small Claims Court Process

Last Updated: April 4, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Small Claim Maximum $5,000
Deadline to File 6 Years
Filing Fees $65 or $90
Appeal Deadline 30 Days

Small Claims Court Basics in Vermont

Small Claims Court is an informal court designed for minor cases limited to a maximum claim amount. The trial does not involve a jury. Instead, the plaintiff and defendant present their case to the judge, who makes a decision.

Common suits filed by landlords include:

  • Recovery of unpaid rent
  • Damages that exceed the amount of the security deposit
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Early termination of a lease

Common suits filed by tenants include:

  • Failure to return the security deposit correctly
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Overcharging for damages

How Long Does the Small Claims Court Process Take in Vermont?

A typical small claims case in Vermont takes three to four months, from the date of filing, but can be longer if there are problems serving the defendant, the trial is continued, or other delays occur.

How Much Can You Sue For in Small Claims Court in Vermont?

In Vermont, the maximum amount that can be recovered through Small Claims Court is $5,000.

To attempt to recover an amount of more than $5,000, the suit must be filed as a regular civil case.

How Long Do You Have to File a Small Claim in Vermont?

You must file a small claims case in Vermont within 6 years.

Are Lawyers Needed or Allowed in Small Claims Court in Vermont?

Small Claims Court is designed to be simple and not require an attorney. However, either party can be represented by an attorney if they so choose.

Where are Small Claims Cases Filed in Vermont?

In Vermont, Small Claims Court is part of the civil division of Superior Court. A small claims case should be filed in the civil division of the Superior Court within the county where the rental property is located.

How to File a Small Claims Case in Vermont

Step 1: Complete a Complaint form. Attach any documents you may have to support your claim like the lease agreement or apartment photos.

Step 2: File your Complaint by email, in person, by mail, or electronically. If you file your case in person or by mail, provide two copies. If you file by mail, include a self-addressed stamped envelope and a check for the filing fee.

Step 3: Pay the filing fee.

How Much Does it Cost to File a Case in Small Claims Court in Vermont?

In Vermont, the filing fee for a small claims case is $65 or $90 depending on the claim amount:

  • $1,000 or less – $65
  • $1,000.01 or more – $90

What if You Can’t Afford to File a Case?

You can still file a case if you cannot afford the fees by filing an Application to Waive Filing Fees.


In Burlington, there is no fee to request a hearing before the Housing Board of Review regarding a security deposit dispute. 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.

Small Claims Court Process in Vermont

After filing a small claims case in Vermont, the court will provide you with a Summons, the appropriate documents are served on the defendant, and the defendant files an Answer before the case is scheduled for a trial.

Step 1: Serve the defendant. Send the following documents to the defendant by first-class mail no later than 7 days after receiving a Summons from the court:

  • Complaint (include any attachments you filed)

After you send the documents by mail, send a completed Certificate of Service to the court.

If the defendant does not file an Answer within 30 days after you mailed the Complaint packet, you must attempt service by sheriff or constable. Contact your local sheriff’s office to request service.

If the defendant still doesn’t respond within 21 days after being served by a sheriff or constable, file a Motion for Default Judgment.

Step 2: Defendant files an Answer. Within 30 days of service, the defendant must file their Answer with the court and send you a copy by mail. Once the Answer has been filed, the court clerk will issue a trial date.

Step 3: Attend the trial. On the trial date, you should bring copies of any evidence you have to support your claim. The judge will give you and the defendant an opportunity to provide your arguments before deciding to dismiss the case or issue a judgment.

If the defendant does not attend the trial, the judge will issue you a default judgment.

Winning a Small Claims Judgment in Vermont

If you win the judgment in Vermont, the other party may appeal the case, you may be paid the judgment within the allotted time period, or you may need to pursue additional actions to recover the debt.

If the defendant disagrees with the outcome of the trial, they have 30 days after the issuance of the judgment to appeal by filing a Notice of Appeal.

When the judge issues the judgment, they may approve an installment plan or require payment within 30 days. In the best case, the judgment debtor pays their debt within this period.

If the debtor is delinquent on their payment or refuses to pay, there are multiple court actions available to recover the debt. The most common methods of enforcing a judgment are bank or wage garnishment or placing a lien on real estate. To initiate these processes, you would need to file a case through the Superior Court to seek court-enforced payment of the judgment.

A judgment gains interest at a rate of 12% annually. You have 8 years to collect or renew a judgment before it expires.