This article summarizes some key Vermont Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.
We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.
With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.
You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.
If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.
Official Rules, Regulations, and Guide
- Title 9: Commerce and Trade, Chapter 137: Residential Rental Agreements
- Rental Housing Health Code – Vermont Department of Health (pdf)
- Renting in Vermont – Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) (pdf)
- Landlord/Tenant (renter) – Vermont Law Help
- Resources for Renters and Landlords – Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development
- Security Deposit Maximum: No statute.
- Security Deposit Interest: There is no statewide statute dictating interest accrued by a security deposit. However, towns and municipalities in Vermont are allowed to adopt ordinances authorizing the payment of interest. For more information, see 9 V.S.A. § 4461(g).
- Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute.
- Non-Refundable Fees: No statute.
- Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No statute.
- Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: Landlords must return the security deposit, along with a written statement explaining any deductions, within 14 days of the tenant vacating the rental unit. If a tenant is renting a unit seasonally, the security deposit and accompanying statement must be returned within 60 days (9 V.S.A. § 4461(c)).
- Permitted Uses of the Security Deposit: Landlords can use all or a portion of the security deposit in order to pay for:
- nonpayment of rent;
- damage caused by the tenant beyond normal wear;
- nonpayment of utility charges the tenant would pay directly to the landlord, and
- expenses related to removing a tenant’s abandoned possessions (9 V.S.A. § 4461(b)).
- Security Deposit can be Withheld: Yes.
- Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes, such a list must accompany the security deposit when it is returned to the tenant (9 V.S.A. § 4461(c)).
- Receipt of Security Deposit: No statute.
- Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute.
- Failure to Comply: If landlords fail to return the deposit within 14 days, the landlord forfeits the right to withhold any part of the security deposit. And if landlords willfully fails to return the security deposit, landlords can be liable for twice the amount of the security deposit, plus attorney’s fees and related costs. (9 V.S.A. § 4461(e)).
Lease, Rent & Fees:
- Rent is Due: Rent is due without demand or notice on a date and location the parties agree to. (9 V.S.A. § 4455(a)).
- Payment Methods: No statute.
- Rent Increase Notice: Landlords must give 60 days’ notice before increasing rent (9 V.S.A. § 4455(b)).
- Late Fees: There is no state statute regarding late fees. However, the 1991 Vermont Supreme Court ruling in Highgate Associates, Ltd. v. Lorna Merryfield established a prohibition against late fees that are charged as penalties. Late fees charged as actual compensation for costs incurred by landlords as a result of late rent payments are the only acceptable situations in which a late fee can be charged.
- Application Fees: Application fees are prohibited by state law (9 V.S.A. § 4456(a)).
- Prepaid Rent: No statute.
- Returned Check Fees: No statute.
- Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes. Tenants can withhold rent for major health code violations after they’ve given notice to the landlord regarding the violation and the landlord has not made the necessary repair or alteration. Tenants can also seek injunctive relief and recover damages, costs and reasonable attorney’s fees (9 V.S.A. § 4458).
- Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: If landlords fail to make minor repairs within 30 days of being notified of the need for the repair by the tenant, tenants can conduct the repairs and deduct the cost from the monthly rent. The deduction cannot exceed one-half of a month’s rent. The tenant must provide the landlord with information regarding the cost of the repair when rent is being deducted (9 V.S.A. § 4459(a)).
- Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes (9 V.S.A. § 4456(e)).
- Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Re-rent: No, however, if the landlord rents the dwelling unit before the expiration of the rental agreement, the agreement terminates on the date of the new tenancy. (9 V.S.A. § 4462).
Notices and Entry:
- Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: There is nothing in statute, but typically, no notice is needed since the lease simply expires.
- Notice to Terminate Any Periodic Lease of a Year or More: In the case of no-cause evictions for tenancies of two years or more, at least 90 days is required (9 V.S.A. § 4467(c)(1)(B)). In the case of no-cause evictions for tenancies of two years or less, at least 60 days’ notice is required (9 V.S.A. § 4467(c)(1)(A))
- Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Month-to-Month: At least 30 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(e)).
- Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Week-to-week: 21 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(c)(2)).
- Notice to Terminate Lease due to Sale of Property: 30 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(d)).
- Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute.
- Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: 14 days (9 V.S.A. § 4467(a)).
- Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: 30 days notice for lease violations; 14 days notice if the eviction notice is due to criminal activity (9 V.S.A. § 4467(b)(1) and (2)).
- Required Notice before Entry: 48 hours, and the landlord is only allowed to enter the rental unit between the hours of 9am and 9pm (9 V.S.A. § 4460).
- Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes (9 V.S.A. § 4460).
- Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (9 V.S.A. § 4460).
- Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No statute.
- Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute.
- Lockouts Allowed: No statute.
- Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No. See the Vermont Department of Health’s Rental Housing Health Code, Section 12.1.2.
Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:
- Name and Addresses: No statute.
- Copy of the Lease: No statute.
- Domestic Violence Situations: No statute.
- Early Termination Rights: No statute.
- Proof of Status: No statute.
- Landlord’s Duties: (9 V.S.A. § 4457)
- Compliance: Landlords are required to maintain rental units that “are safe, clean, and fit for human habitation” and which are in compliance with all building, housing and health regulations.
- Repairs: No statute, but landlords are generally expected to make necessary and needed repairs.
- Common Areas: No statute.
- Maintenance: No statute.
- Trash: No statute.
- Water: Landlords must ensure there is suitable heat and hot water available.
- Tenant’s Duties: (9 V.S.A. § 4456)
- Compliance: Tenants are required to adhere to the obligations set forth in building, housing and health codes and regulations.
- Cleanliness: No statute.
- Trash: No statute.
- Plumbing: No statute.
- Appliances: No statute.
- Lawful Activity: Tenants shall not deliberately or negligently “destroy, deface, damage, or remove” any part of the rental unit, appliances, fixtures, and so on.
- Quiet Enjoyment: Tenants are expected to conduct themselves in such a way that does not disturb other tenants’ “peaceful enjoyment” of their homes.
- Retaliation: Landlords cannot retaliate against their tenants for notifying landlords of violations of landlord-tenant law, complaining to a governmental authority, or joining a tenant’s union. Retaliation is presumed if the landlord negatively reacts within 90 days after the tenant’s action (9 V.S.A. § 4465). For information on the City of Burlington’s Anti-retaliation Law, see the city’s Code of Ordinances, Chapter 18, Section 18(29).
- Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.
- Small Claims Court Limits: $5,000 (12 V.S.A. § 5531)
- Eviction Cases Allowed: No
- Debt Collection & Small Claims Court – Vermont Judiciary
- Suing and Being Sued – Small Claims Court – Vermont Judiciary
- Vermont Judiciary
- Vermont Judiciary Court Divisions – Civil Division
- Office of the Vermont Attorney General
- Vermont Bar Association
- Pro Bono Representation – Vermont Bar Association
- Vermont Legal Aid
- Vermont Law Help
- Law Line of Vermont
- Vermont Volunteer Lawyers Project
- Business License required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.
State agencies & regulatory bodies
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development – Vermont
- Vermont Housing Finance Agency
- Vermont Consumer Services
- Vermont Department of Financial Regulation
- Vermont Department of Financial Regulation – Insurance Division
- Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development – Housing
- Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
- Vermont State Housing Authority
- Bennington Housing Authority
- Brattleboro Housing Partnerships
- Burlington Housing Authority
- Hartford Housing Authority
- Montpelier Housing Authority
- Rutland Housing Authority
- Springfield Housing Authority
- Winooski Housing Authority
Realtor, and Landlord and tenant associations
- Vermont Realtors®
- Green Mountain Association of Realtors®
- Northwestern Vermont Board of Realtors®
- Southern Vermont Board of REALTORS®
- Flat Fee Real Estate
- Vermont Housing Managers Association
- Vermont Apartment Owners Association
- Vermont Tenants, Inc. – Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO)
- Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition