What is the Eviction Process in Vermont
The eviction process in Vermont is a relatively lengthy process and is geared more towards the rights of the tenant than the rights of the landlord. From start to finish, it may take upwards of two months to evict a tenant for any reason, including the nonpayment of rent. For this reason, it is important to know the entire process so the threat of having the process reset doesn't become a very costly experience. Here are the steps that must be followed.
1. Landlords Must Present Non-Paying Tenants With a 14 Day Written Notice To Pay Or Quit.
Under Vermont law, landlords can send tenants a termination of tenancy notice because of the non-payment of rent. This may occur at any time a tenant falls behind on their rent. The landlord must provide tenants with a itemized list of what rent is due in order for this notice to be valid. If the tenant pays the amount due through the end of the rental period that is due, the tenancy will continue. If a tenant does not pay, then landlords must process to the next step of the process.
2. A 30 Day Notice Is Required For The Sale Of a Building.
Landlords who sell their property must give tenants a 30 day notice of this sale for the eviction process to be considered valid. It may only be given to tenants on a month-to month tenancy. Landlords who purchase a property and wish to remove tenants must follow the “No Cause” eviction process. A 30 day notice is also required for any eviction related to a lease violation that does not involve the non-payment of rent.
3. No Cause Evictions Are Allowed In Vermont With 60 Days Notice.
Landlords are allowed to evict tenants on a monthly or weekly rental arrangement with no cause. For weekly renters, the amount of notice required is 21 days. If there is a lease that offers a set period of time for the lease to be valid, this notice cannot be issued to a tenant until the lease period ends. Tenants who move out early because of this eviction notice must still issue a written notice to the landlord about leaving that is the equivalent of one full rental period. In specific situations, the 60 day notice may be extended to 90 days or 120 days depending on the location of the rental unit and the length of time a tenant has spent in the home.
4. Landlords Must Then File For a Summons And Complaint.
If the notice of eviction has not be properly satisfied through payment or repair, then landlords must file for a summons and complaint through superior court. Tenants are given 20 days to provide a written response to the summons and complaint. If not written response is filed, a default judgment will be issued and a writ of possession sent to the sheriff's office. Arriving at the court date without a written response may not prevent a default judgment.
5. Landlords May Request a Rent Escrow.
If an eviction case is going to trial, landlords have the right in Vermont to request a rental escrow be paid to the court in advance. The amount may include all past due rent that is owed. Failure to pay the rent without an active defense, which can only be an uninhabitable rental unit, can result in a default judgment being awarded and a writ of possession issued. If the rent is paid into the escrow account held by the court, then a trial date will be set. If the tenant pays all court costs, legal fees, and rent owed at this time, the eviction process will be stopped. This option is allowed only once every 12 months.
6. Law Enforcement Only Has The Power To Evict.
It is illegal in Vermont for landlords to shut off utilities, abuse their right of entry, perform other acts that could be deemed as harassment, or change the locks on their unit. Tenants are allowed to perform a reasonable destructive force if the locks have been changed to regain entry to the home. These actions are also an active defense against an eviction and may result in the court ordering the landlord to pay for a tenant's legal fees.
7. Tenants Have 5 Business Days To Move After a Writ Of Possession.
After law enforcement receives the writ of possession, tenants have up to 5 business days to leave the rental unit. Sheriff's deputies are authorized to physically remove tenants that still remain after this time period. Locks may be changed at this time as well. The eviction process in Vermont is lengthy, but has been changed since 2008 to help landlords recover their properties faster or lose less money if a case goes to trial.
For specific questions not answered here, be sure to check VSA chapters that govern your circumstances.
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