This is a summary of Vermont Landlord-Tenant laws that apply to residential (non-commercial) rentals. These references were compiled from the Code of Vermont, the Vermont Rental Housing Health Code, and various online sources to serve as a reference and for people wanting to learn about Vermont landlord-tenant laws, Vermont eviction laws, and Vermont renters’ rights.
However, this guide is not comprehensive and PayRent does not warrant the accuracy of this information. Statutes can change any time the state legislature passes a new law. Additionally, counties and cities may have different regulations. Given its limitations, this guide is not an adequate substitute for legal advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you are dealing with a landlord-tenant issue, you seek guidance from a qualified attorney. If you need help finding an attorney, we’ve included a list of attorney referral services in this guide.
Rules and Regulations Governing Vermont Landlord-Tenant Laws
- Title 9: Commerce and Trade, Chapter 137 – Residential Rental Agreements
- Rental Housing Health Code – Vermont Department of Health
Vermont Lease Terms Provisions
- What is the maximum allowable security deposit?
There is no Vermont law limiting security deposits.
- Are security deposits required to earn interest?
No. There is no Vermont law requiring security deposits to earn interest.
- Do landlords need to store security deposits in a separate bank account?
No. There is no Vermont law requiring security deposits to be stored in a separate bank account.
- Are non-refundable fees, such as pet fees, prohibited?
No. There is no Vermont law forbidding non-refundable fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.
- How long do landlords have to return security deposits?
14 days after the tenant vacated the unit with notice to the landlord. (9 V.S.A. § 4461(c))
- Can landlords withhold security deposits?
Yes. Landlords can use the deposit to cover accrued rent, to repair any damages to the property, to pay any utilities the tenant was required but failed to pay, and for any expenses in removing abandoned items from the premises. (9 V.S.A. § 4461(b))
- Are landlords required to itemize damages and fees deducted from security deposits?
Yes. A list itemizing any deductions is required to be provided along with any remaining funds within 14 days of the end of the occupancy. (9 V.S.A. § 4461(c))
- Do landlords have to issue receipts upon receiving security deposits?
No. There is no Vermont law requiring landlords to issue receipts for security deposits.
- Are there any specific requirements for record-keeping for deposit withholdings?
No. There is no Vermont law specifying record-keeping requirements.
- What happens when a landlord does not return a security deposit within the required timeframe?
A landlord forfeits the right to withhold any part of the deposit by not returning the funds or itemized list within 14 days. If the landlord willfully withheld the funds, the landlord is liable for double the amount withheld, plus attorney’s fees. (9 V.S.A. § 4461(e))
- Is there a cap on how much landlords can charge for rent? (rent control)
No. There are no statewide rent control laws in Vermont.
- When is rent due?
Rent is due at the time and place agreed upon by the landlord and tenant. (9 V.S.A. § 4455(a))
- Does rent need to be paid using a certain method of payment?
No. There is no Vermont law requiring a certain payment method for rent.
- Can landlords charge late fees when rent is late?
Yes. However, due to a state supreme court ruling, late fees can not be penalties but must be for actual costs incurred by the landlord. (Highgate Associates, Ltd. v. Merryfield, 597 A.2d 1280, Vt. Supreme Court (1991))
- Do landlords have to allow for a grace period for paying rent before charging late fees?
No. There is no Vermont law requiring a grace period before assessing late fees.
- Can landlords charge application fees?
No. Application fees are prohibited in Vermont. (9 V.S.A. § 4456a)
- Can landlords charge returned check fees?
Yes. There is no Vermont law forbidding returned check fees or limiting the amount that landlords can charge.
Vermont Landlord-Tenant Relations
- Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of rent increases between lease terms?
Yes. Landlords must provide 60 days’ notice before raising the rent. (9 V.S.A. § 4455(b))
- Are landlords required to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the property?
No. There is no Vermont law requiring landlords to provide tenants with notice of pesticide use on the rental property.
- What notice is required to terminate a fixed-end lease?
There is no statute governing notice regarding the end of a fixed-end lease.
- What notice is required to terminate a week-to-week periodic tenancy?
- What notice is required to terminate a month-to-month periodic tenancy?
- If there is a written lease, and the tenant has been in the property for two years or less, 30 days’ notice is required. If the tenant has been there for more than two years, 60 days’ notice is required. (9 V.S.A. § 4467(e))
- If there is no written lease, and the tenant has been in the property for two years or less, 60 days’ notice is required. If the tenant has been there for more than two years, 90 days’ notice is required. (9 V.S.A. § 4467(c)(1))
- Is notice of the date and time of the move out inspection required?
There is no statute in Vermont law covering this issue.
- When can landlords enter the rental premises with notice?
- To inspect the premises.
- To make necessary or agreed to repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements.
- To supply necessary or agreed services.
- To show the unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workmen, or contractors.
- With the tenant’s consent, which can’t be unreasonably withheld. (9 V.S.A. § 4460)
- What notice must a landlord give a tenant before entering the rental unit?
The landlord must provide 48 hours notice, and only enter between 9:00 A.M. and 9:00 P.M. (9 V.S.A. § 4460(b))
- When can landlords enter the rental premises without providing notice to their tenants? If the landlord has a reasonable belief there is imminent danger to any person or property. (9 V.S.A. § 4460(c))
Landlord’s Duties (9 V.S.A. § 4457)
- Landlords must provide a warranty of habitability, including ensuring the premises are safe, clean, and fit for human habitation.
- Part of the warranty of habitability is ensuring all non-summer/hunting rental units have safe and working heating facilities and water supply, including both hot and cold water.
Tenant’s Duties (9 V.S.A. § 4456)
- Tenants must comply with all obligations imposed upon tenants by building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety.
- Tenants must not deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises; or knowingly, recklessly, or negligently permit any person to do so.
- Tenants and their guests must conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb the neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
Required Landlord Disclosures
- 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.
Vermont Renters’ Rights
- What are Vermont renters’ rights if landlords breach their duties? (See Landlord’s Duties)]
- For minor defects, 30 days after notifying the landlord of the defect, the tenant can repair the defect themselves and deduct the actual costs from their rent, provided the deduction is not greater than half the month’s rent. (9 V.S.A. § 4459(a))
- If the landlord’s breach impacts the warranty of habitability, and the landlord has failed to repair the breach up to safe standards after being notified by the tenant, a government agency, or a qualified inspector, the tenant may:
- Withhold rent for the period of the breach of the landlord’s duty.
- Obtain injunctive relief.
- Recover damages, including reasonable attorney’s fees.
- Terminate the lease with appropriate notice. (9 V.S.A. § 4458(a))
- Are tenants allowed to withhold rent for needed repairs or other breaches of their landlords’ duties?
Yes. If a landlord fails to uphold the warranty of habitability after receiving notice of the breach of their duty, Vermont tenants can withhold rent for the entire period of noncompliance. (9 V.S.A. § 4458(a))
- What are the protections for tenants against retaliation from their landlords for exercising their Vermont renter’s rights?
Vermont law prohibits landlords from changing terms of a lease agreement, establishing new terms, or threatening to bring action against any tenant who has complained to a government agency, complained to the landlord themselves, or joined a tenant’s organization. A tenant can recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees for any retaliation attempt by a landlord. (9 V.S.A. § 4465)
Vermont Eviction Laws
- What are the reasons that landlords can evict tenants under Vermont eviction laws?
- Nonpayment of rent.
- Violation of lease terms / rental agreement.
- The tenant remains in possession without the landlord’s consent after expiration or termination of the term of the rental agreement (holdover tenancy).
- Illegal activity.
- Sale of the rental property. (9 V.S.A. § 4467)
- What notice do Vermont eviction laws require that landlords provide tenants before starting the eviction process?
- For evictions based on non-payment of rent or illegal activity, 14 days notice is required before beginning an eviction suit. For non-payment of rent, the tenant can prevent any eviction by paying within the 14 day notice period. (9 V.S.A. § 4467)
- For evictions based violation of lease terms / rental agreement, the landlord must post a 30-day notice to quit before undertaking an eviction suit. (9 V.S.A. § 4467(b)(1))
- For evictions based on a holdover tenancy, the notice required is based on the notice to terminate a lease generally. This process is bifurcated by whether a lease is oral or written, and by how long the tenant has resided at the premises. Required notice can be as short as a 7-day notice to quit for a written week-to-week lease, or as long as 90 days for an oral month-to-month resident who has been present for more than 2 years. (9 V.S.A. § 4467)
- If an eviction is because the landlord has sold the rental property, 30 days written notice is required. (9 V.S.A. § 4467(d))
- Do Vermont eviction laws allow landlords to use “self-help eviction” methods, such as locking a tenant out of the rental unit or shutting off the utilities?
No. The Vermont Rental Housing Health Code prohibits utility shut-offs of an occupied dwelling by a landlord. (6 V.R.H.H.C. 12.1.2)
- Are landlords permitted to recover damages from an evicted tenant?
Yes. If a tenant in Vermont violates their duties, a landlord can recover damages, costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees. (9 V.S.A. § 4456(e))
COVID-19 Changes to Vermont Landlord-Tenant Laws
- The CDC has passed a national eviction ban through December 31, 2020, that prohibits landlords from evicting tenants who meet the following criteria for nonpayment:
- Have used their best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent.
- Expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return).
- Are unable to pay their full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of income or employment, or extraordinary medical bills.
- If evicted, will have no other housing options.
- The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act requires landlords to provide a 30-day notice to tenants before eviction. However, the CARES Act only applies to properties that are supported by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), or the United States Treasury (Low Income Housing Tax Credit), and properties with federally-backed mortgages, such as FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.
- Vermont Judiciary
- Vermont Judiciary Court Divisions – Civil Division
- Office of the Vermont Attorney General
- 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
Attorney Referral Services
Realtor and Landlord-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