Vermont Landlord Tenant Law

Looking for clear and concise information on Vermont landlord tenant law? Get all your answers from this plain English guide to Vermont landlord tenant statutes.

VT Landlord Tenant Law:

  • Vermont Statutes Title 9, Chapter 137 - Residential Rental Agreements

Tenant Application

Application Fees

Vermont landlord tenant law disallows the landlord or landlord's agent to charge someone application fees for a residential tenancy.  9 V.S.A. § 4456a

Background and Credit Check

You can screen tenant applicants with a background check or full credit report from RentPrep.

A background check will show a person's history of addresses, evictions, bankruptcies, judgments and liens.

A full credit report comes with a basic background check, credit check plus criminal check. A basic background check shows a person's history of addresses, evictions and bankruptcies.

Landlords do not need the tenant or applicant's consent to run background and credit checks.  Fair Credit Reporting Act § 604(a)(3)(F)

Avoiding Discrimination

The Fair Housing Act disallows landlords from discriminating against prospective renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, *familial status, national origin or physical/mental handicap.  42 U.S.C. § 3604

*Familial status - pregnant women and families with person(s) under 18.

In addition, Vermont landlord tenant law forbids landlords to discriminate renters because of sexual orientation, gender identity, age or marital status. People on public assistance and victims of abuse, sexual assault or stalking cannot be discriminated as well.  9 V.S.A. § 4503

Landlords must follow the above Fair Housing laws UNLESS the dwelling has three or less rental units and is occupied by the landlord or landlord's immediate family member.  9 V.S.A. § 4504

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Tenancy Agreement

(also known as a lease agreement or rental agreement)

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, it's important to have a written lease agreement with terms and conditions that favors you and follows your state laws.

To save time and avoid mistakes, you can customize your own lease agreement at LawDepot. This site will ask you a set of questions related to your tenancy and create a state-specific agreement based on your answers.

Required for Tenancy Agreement

Vermont landlord tenant law requires all tenancy agreements to contain the following details:

  • Disclosure and information of lead-based paint in the property (for housing built before 1978)

Recommended for Tenancy Agreement

  • Name and address of tenant(s)
  • Number of people (occupants) staying on the property
  • Type of tenancy: month to month tenancy or fixed term lease
  • How much is the rent
  • When, how and where the rent is to be paid
  • When is rent is considered late and the penalties for late rent payment
  • How much is the security deposit and pet deposit (if any)
  • Who holds the deposit(s) and where will it be held
  • What utilities and services are provided and who pays for them
  • What are the landlord's and tenant's duties for property maintenance
  • Can the tenant sublet the property or assign the lease
  • When to inform the landlord if tenant will be away for a long time
  • Prohibited activities and items

Disallowed for Tenancy Agreement

According to Vermont landlord tenant law, your lease agreement CANNOT:

  • make the landlord or tenant give up any legal rights or remedies under the Vermont Landlord Tenant Act 9 V.S.A. § 4454
  • waive the landlord's duties for property maintenance under the Vermont Landlord Tenant Act 9 V.S.A. § 4457.(b) - See Landlord Duties and Responsibilities below

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Security Deposit

The landlord can ask for any security deposit amount as long as the tenant agrees to it.

Deductions and Returns

Vermont landlord tenant law requires the landlord to inform the tenant of the terms and conditions for security deposit deductions.
  
Valid reasons for security deposit deductions under Vermont landlord tenant law 9 V.S.A. § 4461.(b) include:

  • Rent owed
  • Property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Utilities bills owed by the tenant
  • Moving costs of the tenant's abandoned belongings

The landlord is NOT allowed to take money from the security deposit due to damage from *normal wear and tear. *Normal wear and tear is the natural deterioration of the property (and its contents) from normal everyday use.

Once the lease terminates and the tenant returns the property, the landlord must send the tenant a list of security deposit deductions and refund any remaining deposit within 14 days. This list has to individually account for all damages and rent owed in writing.  9 V.S.A. § 4461.(c)

If the landlord fails to follow Vermont landlord tenant law for deducting and returning security deposit, he or she shall be not be allowed to keep any part of it.  9 V.S.A. § 4461.(e)

Change of Property Owner

Once the property ownership is transferred, the landlord must transfer the security deposit to the new owner. In addition, the landlord has to inform the tenant in writing that the security has been transferred to the new owner and what is the new owner's name and address.  9 V.S.A. § 4461.(f)

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Burlington, Vermont VT

Vermont Landlord Tenant Law

Photo by Rachel Voorhees

Rent

The tenant has to pay the rent without demand or reminders. As long as the landlord and tenant are agreeable, they can choose the time, place and method of rent payment.  9 V.S.A. § 4455.(a)

Late Rent

The landlord can charge late fees ONLY if there are costs incurred by the landlord due to late rent payments. Vermont landlord tenant law disallows landlords from charging late fees as penalties.  Highgate Associates, Ltd. v. Lorna Merryfield

Raising Rent

According to the Vermont Landlord Tenant Act, the landlord can choose to raise the rent by any amount.

For a month to month tenancy, the landlord has to notify the tenant of a rent increase at least 60 days in advance.  9 V.S.A. § 4455.(b)

For a fixed term tenancy, the landlord isn't allowed to raise the rent until the tenancy expires.

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Property Maintenance

Landlord Duties and Responsibilities

The Vermont Landlord Tenant Act 9 V.S.A. § 4457.(b) requires the landlord to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition:

  • Delivery: Deliver the property in a clean, safe and habitable condition
  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Maintenance: Maintain all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, kitchen facilities in safe working condition
  • Heating: Supply running water, hot water and heating

Tenant Duties and Responsibilities

Vermont landlord tenant law 9 V.S.A. § 4456 also requires the tenant to keep the property in a clean and safe condition:

  • Compliance: Obey all building and housing codes that affect health and safety
  • Disturbance: Avoid disturbing other tenants and disallow people related to the tenant from disturbing other tenants as well
  • Property Damage: Avoid property damage due to negligence, misuse or abuse by the tenant, occupants or tenant's guests
  • Lease Termination: Inform the landlord in writing one payment period in advance before terminating the lease (e.g. 1 month in advance for a month to month tenancy)

If the tenant fails in any of the above duties, the landlord can recover damages, court costs, attorney fees AND terminate the rental agreement.  9 V.S.A. § 4456.(e)

If Landlord Fails to Maintain Property

If the landlord fails to maintain the property (and it affects health and safety), the tenant can give the landlord a written notice stating the problem and giving the landlord a reasonable amount of time to correct it.  9 V.S.A. § 4458

If the problem isn't corrected within a reasonable amount of time, the tenant can:

  1. withhold rent until repairs are made
  2. obtain a court order (demanding that the landlord makes repairs)
  3. sue the landlord for damages, court costs and attorney fees
  4. terminate the rental agreement (after giving reasonable notice).

If the repair costs do not exceed half month's rent, the tenant can pay for repairs then deduct the costs from rent. The tenant must inform the landlord of the repair costs. We also recommend that the tenant submit a copy of all repair receipts to the landlord.  9 V.S.A. § 4459

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Property Access

When Tenant's Permission is Required

According to Vermont landlord tenant law 9 V.S.A. § 4460, the landlord is only allowed to enter the property for the following reasons:

  • Inspecting property
  • Performing property maintenance or repairs
  • Supplying essential (or mutually agreed) services
  • Showing property to prospective buyers, lenders, tenants, workmen or contractors

In the above situations, the landlord must inform the tenant at least 48 hours in advance before entering the property. The landlord can only enter the property with the tenant's consent between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

When Tenant's Permission is NOT Required

According to Vermont landlord tenant law, the landlord may enter the property without permission in the following situations:

  • Emergencies where there is impending danger to person or property  9 V.S.A. § 4460.(c)

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Subletting

According to Vermont landlord tenant law, the landlord can allow or disallow subletting in a written rental agreement.  In addition, the tenant can require the tenant to provide the name and contact information of any subtenant.  9 V.S.A. § 4456b.(a)(1)

If there is no written rental agreement, the tenant shall have to provide the name and contact information of any subtenant to the landlord.  9 V.S.A. § 4456b.(b)

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Montpelier, Vermont VT

Montpelier, Vermont VT

Termination of Tenancy

Number of Days for Notice to Quit

Before terminating a tenancy, Vermont landlord tenant law requires you to give the other party a written notice to quit in advance:

WRITTEN RENTAL AGREEMENT [9 V.S.A. § 4467.(d)]

Week to week tenancy

7 days

Month to month tenancy - Tenant has stayed for two years or less

30 days

Month to month tenancy - Tenant has stayed more than two years

60 days

NO WRITTEN RENTAL AGREEMENT [9 V.S.A. § 4467.(c)]

Week to week tenancy

21 days

Month to month tenancy - Tenant has stayed for two years or less

60 days

Month to month tenancy - Tenant has stayed more than two years

90 days

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Eviction

According to Vermont landlord tenant law, the following are valid reasons for evicting tenants and the minimum number of days for giving them a notice to quit:

Tenant did not pay rent

14 days

Tenant violated tenancy agreement or didn't perform duties

30 days

Tenant or related person was involved in illegal activities on property

14 days

Whether you are a landlord evicting someone or a tenant facing eviction, it's important that you handle matters correctly according to your state laws.

If you have any questions or doubts on eviction, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

Tenant Did Not Pay Rent

If the tenant did not pay rent on time, the landlord can send the tenant a 14 day written notice to terminate the tenancy. This notice must state the amount of rent owed and that the rental agreement shall be terminated if rent isn't paid within 14 days. If the rent is paid within seven days, then tenancy shall continue.  9 V.S.A. § 4467.(a)

Tenant Violated Tenancy Agreement or Didn't Perform Duties

If the tenant violates the tenancy agreement in a *significant manner, the landlord can send the tenant a written 30 day notice to terminate the tenancy.  9 V.S.A. § 4467.(b)(1)

Similarly if the tenant fails to perform his or her duties (as required by Vermont landlord tenant law) in a *significant manner, the landlord can also send the tenant a written 30 day notice to terminate the tenancy.

Tenant or Related Person was Involved in Illegal Activities on Property

If the tenant (or tenant's occupant or tenant's guest) engaged in illegal activity or threatened the health and safety of others on the property, the landlord can also send the tenant a written 14 day notice to terminate the tenancy.  9 V.S.A. § 4467.(b)(2)

Unlawful Eviction

According to Vermont landlord tenant law, the landlord CANNOT force the tenant to move out by shutting off utilities (electricity, water, gas, sanitation), changing the locks, taking the tenant's belongings or taking possession of the property by force without a court hearing.  9 V.S.A. § 4463.(a)

If the landlord forces the tenant to move out with unlawful methods or shuts off utilities, the tenant may sue the landlord to regain possession of the property or restore utility services. In addition, the tenant can recover damages, court costs and attorney fees.  9 V.S.A. § 4464

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Abandonment

When is it Abandonment?

According to Vermont landlord tenant law 9 V.S.A. § 4462.(a), the tenant has abandoned the property when ALL three conditions are met:

  1. Tenant is late in paying rent
  2. Property appears to be unoccupied or abandoned
  3. Landlord has tried to find out whether the tenant has abandoned the property

As long as the landlord makes a proper effort to re-rent the property at a fair rate, the abandoning tenant will be responsible for paying rent until the tenancy ends. If a new tenant is moving in before the tenancy ends, then the abandoning tenant can stop paying rent once the new tenant moves in.  9 V.S.A. § 4462.(b)

Dealing with Abandoned Belongings

If the tenant abandoned the property and left his or her personal belongings behind, the landlord must mail a written notice to the tenant's last known address. This notice has to state that the landlord shall dispose the belongings if the tenant doesn't claim them and pay for their moving (plus other) expenses within 60 days.  9 V.S.A. § 4462.(c)

To recover his or her belongings, the tenant has to give the landlord a written description of the belongings and pay for their storage (and any other related) expenses.

If the tenant doesn't claim the belongings within 60 days, the landlord can choose to sell, dump or donate them.

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Resources

Vermont Landlord Tenant Law: Vermont Statutes Online - Residential Rental Agreements

Vermont Landlord Tenant Handbook: Renting in Vermont

If you have any questions or need legal advice, you can ask a local landlord tenant lawyer online.

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