Vermont Landlord Tenant Law's Summary of VT Landlord Tenant Law

In order to be a strong landlord in Vermont, Landlord Station encourages you to pursue a thorough understanding of Vermont landlord tenant law. While we can't provide you with information or advice directly relevant to your situation, we can provide a general summary to help you understand the landlord tenant law. Vermont lawyers are the only authorities licensed to give you legal advice on your specific rental situation. Therefore, the following summary should be used for informational purposes only and not taken as legal advice.

When it comes to governing landlord tenant law, VT lays out its relevant rules in Title 9, Chapter 137 of the Vermont Statutes. To have a basic comprehension of these laws and what they mean for you and your tenant, you also need to know the difference between dictionary definitions and legal definitions of certain terms. In fact, the law itself provides legal definitions for certain terms that may cause confusion or uncertainty. Vermont landlord tenant law outlines the definitions below in 9 V.S.A. § 4451:

Landlord – An owner, lessor, or sublessor (when applicable) of a residential dwelling unit or the building such a unit is a part of

Tenant – (also sometimes known as a lessor) Any person that has a right to exclusively occupy a residential dwelling unit under a rental agreement

Dwelling Unit – A building or one of its parts which is used by one or more persons as a

home, residence, or sleeping place

Premises – A dwelling unit, its appurtenances, and the building it's contained in, as well as the grounds, areas, and facilities generally used or promised for use to the tenant

Rental Agreement – Any written or spoken (oral) agreement that embodies the terms and conditions concerning the use and occupancy of a rental dwelling unit and its premises

Rent – All considerations under the rental agreement (except any security deposits) to be made to the landlord or for the benefit of the landlord, including goods, services, and money

Building, Housing, and Health Regulations – Any law, ordinance, or regulation that concerns the health, safety, sanitation, fitness for habitation, construction, maintenance, operation, occupancy, use, or appearance of any rental dwelling unit and/or the related premises

Normal Wear and Tear – Any deterioration that normally occurs within the reasonable use of the rental unit by the tenant or his or her household members, invitees, or guests

Actual Notice – When the written notice is received via hand delivery or mail to the last known address of the recipient

Once you understand these legal terms and what they mean for your rental agreement, you can begin to recognize the relationship between your lease and landlord tenant law. Vermont doesn't require that your lease be written, but it is important to know that written agreements usually provide better clarification to you and your tenant about expectations and responsibilities, and are easier to prove in court. Note that no rental agreement, oral or written, may attempt to circumvent any obligation or remedy set forth in the Vermont Statutes.

Much of VT landlord tenant law is very similar to that of other states. However, there are very distinctive differences in some of this state's landlord tenant law. For example, Vermont prohibits rental application fees in 9 V.S.A. § 4456a – something that is allowed in other states. Other laws in this chapter of statutes focus on what rights and responsibilities are assigned to landlord and tenant. For instance, a landlord is obligated to provide and maintain a dwelling unit and premises that are safe, clean, and fit for habitation, as well as comply with applicable building, housing, and health regulations. This includes the responsibility to safely provide adequate heat and water. Your tenant's obligations include the following:

• Voluntary rent payment at the time and place set forth in the rental agreement

• Avoiding the creation of or contribution to any noncompliance of the dwelling unit with relevant building, housing, and health regulations

• Conducting him or herself in a way that doesn't disturb other tenants' peaceful enjoyment of the rental premises and requiring that his or her invitees do the same

• Refrain from deliberately or negligently causing the defacing, destruction, damage, or removal of any section of the rental premises including fixtures, mechanical systems, and furnishings, and require that his or her invitees do the same

• Allow reasonable access to the premises by the landlord

• Give actual notice to the landlord at least one rental period prior to terminating the tenancy

If your tenant fails to fulfill his or her responsibilities, you as landlord have a right to seek lease termination and recover damages, costs, and reasonable legal fees. Conversely, a tenant also has options for remedies should you lapse on your legal obligations or responsibilities. These include:

• The right to deduct cost of minor repairs you have failed to make within 30 days of notification from rent payment

• The right to withhold rent for any period of noncompliance

• The right to obtain relief by injunction

• The right to recover any damages, costs, and reasonable legal fees

• The right to terminate the lease with reasonable notice

When considering what rights and responsibilities apply to you and your tenant, or tenants, under Vermont landlord tenant law, it is also important to remember that not all agreements qualify. There are exclusions that are either governed under a different set of statutes or are exempt from such laws. This includes occupancy in:

• A public or private institution that is operated for the purpose of providing services related to medical, geriatric, education, counseling or religion, as well as other similar services

• The dwelling portion of a fraternal, social, or religious organization by one of its members

• A hotel, motel, or lodging when such occupancy is considered “transient” and is subject to the tax levied by 32 V.S.A. Chapter 225

• A unit by the owner or proprietary lease holder in a cooperative

• A mobile home lot that is governed by 10 V.S.A. Chapter 153

• A campground or any other property used for seasonal, short-term vacation, or short-term recreational purposes when such occupancy is considered “transient”

While you may not be an immediate expert on the law, once you have a general understanding of its definitions, rights, responsibilities, and exemptions, you will definitely have the tools you need to empower yourself and your tenant with the ability to proactively avoid tension and conflict. We at hope we have given you the means to reach that point.

To garner an even better understanding of how landlord tenant law applies to your rental relationships, also read up on applicable federal laws and local ordinances and codes. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, however, always consult a licensed and experienced Vermont attorney. Again, the summary on this page is just that – a summary – and should never be misconstrued as legal advice.

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