In Vermont, a landlord’s obligation for providing a habitable living space is primarily governed by 9 V.S.A. § 4457. This legal requirement, commonly known as the “implied warranty of habitability”, also outlines the rights of tenants when repairs are not made in a timely manner.
|Landlord Responsibilities||Windows/Doors, Roof/Walls, Cold/Hot Water, Heating, Plumbing, Electrical, Trash Can, Stairs/Railing, Floors, Fire Exits, No Combustible Materials, Sanitation Facilities, Smoke/ Carbon Monoxide Detector|
|Time Limit for Repairs||30 Days|
|Tenant Recourse Options||
Applicable Dwelling Types in Vermont
The implied warranty of habitability in Vermont does not apply to all types of dwellings. See the table below for which are and aren’t included.
|Dwelling Type||Landlord/Tenant Laws Apply?|
|Fraternities/Sororities/Clubs||Not specifically addressed|
|RV parks||Not specifically addressed|
|Mobile home parks||Only if person in mobile home is renter, not owner|
Additionally, rental agreements are not allowed to include any provisions that waive the tenant’s right to live in a habitable residence.
Landlord Responsibilities in Vermont
The following chart lists possible landlord responsibilities when it comes to habitability. Not all of them are requirements in Vermont, as indicated below.
Note: Some of the below items may not be addressed at the state level but may be addressed on a county or city level. It’s always best to check local housing codes to see which additional requirements may apply.
|Habitability Issue||Landlord Responsibility?|
|Provide windows and doors that are in good repair.||Yes|
|Ensure the roof, walls, etc., are completely waterproofed and there are no leaks.||Yes|
|Provide hot and cold running water.||Yes|
|Provide working HVAC equipment.||Heating required|
|Provide working plumbing and electrical wiring/outlets/ lighting.||Yes|
|Provide working gas lines if used for utilities/cooking||Not addressed|
|Provide working sanitation facilities (bathtub/shower, toilet).||Yes|
|Provide a trash can (for trash pickup services).||Yes|
|Ensure that any stairs and railings are safe.||Yes|
|Ensure that all floors are in good condition and safe.||Yes|
|Provide fire exits that are usable, safe, and clean.||Yes|
|Ensure storage areas, including garages and basements, do not house combustible materials.||Yes|
|Provide working smoke detectors||Yes|
|Provide a mailbox for each unit.||Not addressed|
|Provide working wiring for one telephone jack.||Not addressed|
|Provide working kitchen appliances.||No|
|Provide working carbon monoxide detector.||Yes|
|Provide a working washer/dryer.||No|
Landlords are required to provide a kitchen and a kitchen sink, and floors and countertops must be “non-absorbent.”
Landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining pest and bedbug-free rental units. In addition, rental units must be “rodent-proof.”
For buildings built before 1978 landlords are required to comply with additional duties meant to protect tenants from possible lead paint exposure including, but not limited to, providing tenants with information on protecting against lead, posting a notice asking the tenants to report chipping, flaking or damaged paint, and completing Essential Maintenance Practices (EMP’s)annually. Check out this link on EMP’s to know more about these requirements.
If the landlord supplies heat as a part of the rental agreement, heat must be supplied when the outside temperature is less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The inside of a dwelling unit should be able to maintain at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
All dwelling units must include at least one window or door that can be opened to bring in fresh air. Screens should be provided by the landlord for any operable window and doors that are used for ventilation. Common areas that contain hallways or stairways and any bathroom or shower room must be properly ventilated.
Tenant’s Right to Repairs in Vermont
Landlords are required to make and pay for any repairs to make the unit livable that are not caused by the tenant.
- Sending Notice – If a tenant request repairs, they must put their request in writing to the landlord. The landlord will then have 30 days to make any necessary repairs.
- Landlord Access – Tenants are required to give the landlord access to the property to make necessary repairs. However, a landlord must give tenants 48 hours’ notice unless it’s an emergency. Landlords should enter the premises at reasonable times, between the hours of 9am and 9pm are considered reasonable, except in emergency cases.
Tenant’s Options if Repairs Aren’t Made in Vermont
If repairs aren’t made in a timely manner, the tenant has a few possible options for resolving the issue.
- Withhold Rent – Vermont landlord-tenant law permits a tenant to withhold rent in response to serious habitability issues.
- Repair and Deduct – Tenants can pay for the repair themselves and deduct the repair amount from their monthly rent payments. The amount to be deducted, however, cannot exceed one-half of a month’s rent.
- Report Habitability Issues – Where the landlord’s failure to maintain the habitability of the unit also violates a health, safety, building or housing code or rule, the tenant may report the landlord for such violation.
- Lawsuit– Tenants can sue the landlord for damages for the latter’s failure to comply with their duty as a landlord.
Landlord Retaliation in Vermont
It is illegal for a landlord to retaliate against a tenant by establishing or changing terms of a rental agreement, raising the rent or threatening to bring an action against a tenant who:
- Complained to a governmental agency charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building or housing violation.
- Complained to the landlord of a violation of Vermont’s Residential Rental Agreements Laws or Fair Housing Law.
- Organized or become a member of a tenant’s union or similar organization.