Landlord and Tenant
CHAPTER 137: RESIDENTIAL
As used in this chapter:
(1) "Actual notice" means written notice
hand-delivered or mailed to the last known address.
(2) "Building, housing and health regulations" means
any law, ordinance or governmental regulation concerning health,
safety, sanitation or fitness for habitation,or concerning the
construction, maintenance, operation, occupancy, use or appearance
of any premises or dwelling unit.
(3) "Dwelling unit" means a building or the part of
a building that is used as a home,residence or sleeping place by
one or more persons who maintain a household.
(4) "Landlord" means the owner, lessor, or where
applicable, the sublessor of a residential dwelling unit or the
building of which it is a part.
(5) "Normal wear and tear" means the deterioration
which occurs, based upon the reasonable use for which the rental
unit is intended, without negligence, carelessness,accident or
abuse of the premises or equipment or chattels by the tenant or
members of his or her household or their invitees or guests.
(6) "Premises" means a dwelling unit, its
appurtenances and the building, and the grounds, areas and
facilities held out for the use of tenants generally or whose use
is promised to the tenant.
(7) "Rent" means all consideration to be made to or
for the benefit of the landlord under the rental agreement, not
including security deposits.
(8) "Rental agreement" means all agreements, written
or oral, embodying terms and conditions concerning the use and
occupancy of a dwelling unit and premises. "Tenant"
means a person entitled under a rental agreement to occupy a
residential dwelling unit to the exclusion of others. Part VII,
Chap. 137, § 4451
Unless created to avoid the application of this chapter, this
chapter does not apply to:
(1) occupancy at a public or private institution, operated for
the purpose of providing medical, geriatric, educational,
counseling, religious or similar service;
(2) occupancy under a contract of sale of a dwelling unit or
the property of which it is a part, if the occupant is the
purchaser or a person who succeeds to the interest of the
(3) occupancy by a member of a fraternal, social or religious
organization in the portion of a building operated for the benefit
of the organization;
(4) transient occupancy in a hotel, motel or lodgings during
the time the occupancy is subject to a tax levied under chapter
225 of Title 32;
(5) occupancy by the owner of a condominium unit or the holder
of a proprietary lease in a cooperative;
(6) rental of a mobile home lot governed by chapter 153 of
TITLE 10: Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4452
Obligations imposed on landlords and tenants under this
chapter shall be implied in all rental agreements. § 4453, Part
VII, Chap. 137,
Attempt to circumvent:
No rental agreement shall contain any provision which attempts
to circumvent or circumvents obligations and remedies established
by this chapter and any such provision shall be unenforceable and
void. Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4454
Tenant obligations; payment of rent
(a) Rent is payable without demand or notice at the time and
place agreed upon by the parties.
(b) An increase in rent shall take effect on the first day of
the rental period following no less than 60 days' actual notice to
the tenant. Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4455.
(Added 1985, No. 175 (Adj.Sess.), § 1.)
Tenant obligations; use and maintenance of dwelling unit:
(a) The tenant shall not create or contribute to the
noncompliance of the dwelling unit with applicable provisions of
building, housing and health regulations.
(b) The tenant shall conduct himself or herself and require
other persons on the premises with the tenant's consent to conduct
themselves in a manner that will not disturb other tenants'
peaceful enjoyment of the premises.
(c) The tenant shall not deliberately or negligently destroy,
deface, damage or remove any part of the premises or its fixtures,
mechanical systems or furnishings or deliberately or negligently
permit any person to do so.
(d) Unless inconsistent with a written rental agreement or
otherwise provided by law, a tenant may terminate a tenancy by
actual notice given to the landlord at least one rental payment
period prior to the termination date specified in the notice.
(e) If a tenant acts in violation of this section, the
landlord is entitled to recover damages, costs and reasonable
attorney's fees, and the violation shall be grounds for
termination under section 4467(b) of this title. Part VII, Chap.
137, § 4456
Residential rental application fees; prohibited:
A landlord or a landlord's agent shall not charge an
application fee to any individual in order to apply to enter into
a rental agreement for a residential dwelling unit. This section
shall not be construed to prohibit a person from charging a fee to
a person in order to apply to rent commercial or nonresidential
property. Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4456a.
Landlord obligations; habitability:
(a) Warranty of habitability. In any residential rental
agreement, the landlord shall be deemed to covenant and warrant to
deliver over and maintain, throughout the period of the tenancy,
premises that are safe, clean and fit for human habitation and
which comply with the requirements of applicable building, housing
and health regulations.
(b) Waiver. No rental agreement shall contain any provision by
which the tenant waives the protections of the implied warranty of
habitability. Any such waiver shall be deemed contrary to public
policy and shall be unenforceable and void.
(c) Heat and water. As part of the implied warranty of
habitability, the landlord shall ensure that the dwelling unit has
heating facilities which are capable of safely providing a
reasonable amount of heat. Every landlord who provides heat as
part of the rental agreement shall at all times supply a
reasonable amount of heat to the dwelling unit. The landlord shall
provide an adequate amount of water to each dwelling unit properly
connected with hot and cold water lines. The hot water lines shall
be connected with supplied water-heating facilities which are
capable of heating sufficient water to permit an adequate amount
to be drawn. This subsection shall not apply to a dwelling unit
intended and rented for summer occupancy or as a hunting camp.
Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4457
Habitability; tenant remedies:
(a) If the landlord fails to comply with the landlord's
obligations for habitability and,after receiving actual notice of
the noncompliance from the tenant, a governmental entity or a
qualified independent inspector, the landlord fails to make
repairs within a reasonable time and the noncompliance materially
affects health and safety, the tenant may:
(1) withhold the payment of rent for the period of the
(2) obtain injunctive relief;
(3) recover damages, costs and reasonable attorney's fees; and
(4) terminate the rental agreement on reasonable notice.
(b) Tenant remedies under this section are not available if
the noncompliance was caused by the negligent or deliberate act or
omission of the tenant or a person on the premises with the
tenant's consent. Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4458
Minor defects; repair and deduct:
(a) If within 30 days of notice, the landlord fails to repair
a minor defect in order to comply with this chapter or a material
provision of the rental agreement, the tenant may repair the
defect and deduct from the rent the actual and reasonable cost of
the work, not to exceed one-half of one month's rent. The tenant
shall provide the landlord with actual notice of the cost of the
repair, when the cost is deducted from the rent.
(b) The tenant remedies under this section are not available
if the noncompliance was caused by the negligent or deliberate act
or omission of the tenant or a person on the premises with the
tenant's consent. Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4459
(a) A landlord may enter the dwelling unit with the tenant's
consent, which shall not be unreasonably withheld.
(b) A landlord may also enter the dwelling unit for the
following purposes between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 9:00 P.M. on
no less than 48 hours' notice:
(1) when necessary to inspect the premises;
(2) to make necessary or agreed repairs, alterations or
(3) to supply agreed services; or
(4) to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual
purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers or contractors.
(c) A landlord may only enter the dwelling unit without
consent or notice when the landlord has a reasonable belief that
there is imminent danger to any person or to property. Part VII,
Chap. 137, § 4460
(a) A security deposit is any advance, deposit or prepaid
rent, however named,which is refundable to the tenant at the
termination or expiration of the tenancy. The function of a
security deposit is to secure the performance of a tenant's
obligations to pay rent and to maintain a dwelling unit.
(b) The landlord may retain all or a portion of the security
(1) nonpayment of rent;
(2) damage to property of the landlord, unless the damage is
the result of normal wear and tear or the result of actions or
events beyond the control of the tenant;
(3) nonpayment of utility or other charges which the tenant
was required to pay directly to the landlord or to a utility; and
(4) expenses required to remove from the rental unit articles
abandoned by the tenant.
(c) A landlord shall return the security deposit to a tenant
within 14 days from the date on which the tenant vacated or
abandoned the dwelling unit, with a written statement itemizing
any deductions. In the case of the seasonal occupancy and rental
of a dwelling unit not intended as a primary residence, the
security deposit and written statement shall be returned within 60
(d) The landlord shall comply with this section by
hand-delivering or mailing the statement and any payment required
to the last known address of the tenant.
(e) If a landlord fails to return the security deposit with a
statement within 14 days, the landlord forfeits the right to
withhold any portion of the security deposit. If the failure is
wilful, the landlord shall be liable for double the amount
wrongfully withheld,plus reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
(f) Upon termination of the landlord's interest in the
dwelling unit, the security deposit shall be transferred to the
new landlord. The new landlord shall give the tenant actual notice
of the new landlord's name and address with a statement that the
security deposit has been transferred to the new landlord.
(g) A town or municipality may adopt an ordinance governing
security deposits on dwellings. The ordinance shall be
supplemental to and not inconsistent with the minimum protections
of the provisions of this section. The ordinance may not limit how
a security deposit is held. The ordinance may authorize the
payment of interest on a security deposit. The ordinance may
provide that a housing board of review constituted pursuant to
section 5005 of TITLE 24 may hear and decide disputes related to
security deposits upon request for a hearing by a landlord or
tenant: The board's actions shall be reviewable under section 5006
of TITLE 24: Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4461
Abandonment; unclaimed property:
(a) A tenant has abandoned a dwelling unit if:
(1) there are circumstances which would lead a reasonable
person to believe that the dwelling unit is no longer occupied as
a full-time residence;
(2) rent is not current; and
(3) the landlord has made reasonable efforts to ascertain the
(b) If the tenant abandons the dwelling unit the tenant shall
remain liable for rent until the expiration of the rental
agreement. 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.
(c) If any property, except trash, garbage or refuse, is
unclaimed by a tenant who has abandoned a dwelling unit, the
landlord shall give written notice to the tenant mailed to the
tenant's last known address that the landlord intends to dispose
of the property after 60 days if the tenant has not claimed the
property and paid any reasonable storage and other fees incurred
by the landlord. The landlord shall place the property in a safe,
dry, secured location, but may dispose of any trash, garbage or
refuse left by the tenant. The tenant may claim the property by
providing the landlord with the following within 60 days after the
date of the notice:
(1) A reasonable written description of the property; and
(2) Payment of the fair and reasonable cost of storage and any
related reasonable expenses incurred by the landlord. If the
tenant does not claim the property within the required time, the
property shall become the property of the landlord. If the tenant
claims the property within the required time, the landlord shall
immediately make the property available to the tenant at a
reasonable place and the tenant shall take possession of the
property at that time and place. Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4462
(a) No landlord may willfully cause, directly or indirectly,
the interruption or termination of any utility service being
supplied to the tenant, except for temporary interruptions for
(b) No landlord may directly or indirectly deny a tenant
access to and possession of the tenant's rented or leased
premises, except through proper judicial process.
(c) No landlord may directly or indirectly deny a tenant
access to and possession of the tenant's property, except through
proper judicial process. Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4463
(Added 1985, No. 175 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
Remedies for illegal evictions:
(a) Any tenant who sustains damage or injury as a result of an
illegal eviction may bring an action for injunctive relief,
damages, costs and reasonable attorney's fees.
(b) A court may award reasonable attorney's fees to the
landlord if, upon motion and hearing, it is determined that the
action was not brought in good faith and was frivolous or intended
for harassment only. Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4464
Retaliatory conduct prohibited:
(a) A landlord of a residential dwelling unit may not
retaliate by establishing or changing terms of a rental agreement
or by bringing or threatening to bring an action against a tenant
(1) has complained to a governmental agency charged with
responsibility for enforcement of a building, housing or health
regulation of a violation applicable to the premises materially
affecting health and safety;
(2) has complained to the landlord of a violation of this
(3) has organized or become a member of a tenant's union or
(b) If the landlord acts in violation of this section, the
tenant is entitled to recover damages and reasonable attorney's
fees and has a defense in any retaliatory action for possession.
Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4465
Termination of tenancy; notice:
(a) Termination for nonpayment of rent. Termination for
nonpayment of rent. The landlord may terminate a tenancy for
nonpayment of rent by providing actual notice to the tenant of the
date on which the tenancy will terminate which shall be at least
14 days after the date of the actual notice. The rental agreement
shall not terminate if the tenant pays or tenders all arrearages
prior to the termination date. A tenant may not defeat a notice to
terminate by payment of arrearages more than three times in 12
months. Acceptance of partial payment of rent shall not constitute
a waiver of the landlord's remedies for nonpayment of rent.
(b) Termination for breach of rental agreement. The landlord
may terminate a tenancy for failure of the tenant to comply with a
material term of the rental agreement or with obligations imposed
under this chapter, by actual notice given to the tenant at least
30 days prior to the termination date specified in the notice.
(c) Termination for no cause. In the absence of a written
rental agreement, the landlord may terminate a tenancy for no
cause as follows:
(1) if rent is payable on a monthly basis, by providing actual
notice to the tenant of the date on which the tenancy will
terminate which shall be:
(A) For tenants who have resided continuously in the same
premises for two years or less, at least 60 days after the date of
the actual notice.
(B) For tenants who have resided continuously in the same
premises for more than two years, at least 90 days after the date
of the actual notice.
(2) if rent is payable on a weekly basis, by providing actual
notice to the tenant of the date on which the tenancy will
terminate which shall be at least 21 days after the date of the
(d) Termination of rental agreement when property is sold. In
the absence of a written rental agreement a landlord who has
contracted to sell the building may terminate a tenancy by
providing actual notice to the tenant of the date on which the
tenancy will terminate which shall be at least 30 days after the
date of the actual notice.
(e) Termination by landlord under terms of written rental
agreement. If the landlord terminates a tenancy in accordance with
the terms of a written rental agreement, the notice to terminate
shall be at least 30 days, if rent is payable on a monthly basis
and the tenancy has continued for two years or less. The notice to
terminate for no cause shall be at least 60 days if the rent is
paid on a monthly basis and the tenancy has continued for more
than two years. The notice to terminate shall be at least seven
days, if rent is payable on a weekly basis; however, a notice to
terminate for nonpayment of rent shall be as provided in
subsection (a) of this section.
(f) In all cases the termination date shall be specifically
stated in the notice.
(g) If the building is being converted to condominiums, notice
shall be given in accordance with subchapter 2 of chapter 15 of
(h) A rental arrangement whereby a person rents to another
individual one or more rooms in his or her personal residence that
includes the shared use of any of the common living spaces, such
as the living room, kitchen or bathroom, may be terminated by
either party by providing actual notice to the other of the date
the rental agreement shall terminate, which shall be at least 15
days after the date of actual notice if the rent is payable
monthly and at least seven days after the date of actual notice if
the rent is payable weekly. Part VII, Chap. 137, § 4467
Termination of tenancy; action for possession:
If the tenant remains in possession after termination of the
rental agreement, without the express consent of the landlord, the
landlord may bring an action for possession, damages and costs
under subchapter 3 of chapter 169 of TITLE 12: Part VII, Chap.
137, § 4468.
Termination of occupancy of farm employee housing:
(a) For the purposes of this section:
(1) "Farm employer" means an individual who earns at
least one-half of his or her annual gross income from the business
of farming as that term is defined in Section 1.175-3 of the
regulations issued by the United States Department of the Treasury
under the Internal Revenue Code of the United States, as amended.
(2) "Farm employee" means an individual employed by
a farm employer in farming operations.
(3) "Housing provided as a benefit of farm
employment" means housing owned or controlled by the farm
employer, whether located on or off the farm premises, and
provided for the occupancy of the farm employee and his or her
family or household members for no consideration other than the
farm employee's labor. Payment of
utility and fuel charges paid by the farm employee does not
affect the designation of housing provided as a benefit of farm
(b) Unless otherwise provided in a written employment
contract, a farm employer who provides housing to a farm employee
and his or her family or household members as a benefit of the
employment may terminate that benefit and all rights of the
employee and the employee's family or household members to occupy
the housing when the employee's employment is terminated.
(c) The termination of the housing benefit shall be by written
notice served upon the former farm employee by a law enforcement
officer in accordance with Rule 4 of the Vermont Rules of Civil
Procedure. The notice shall be served together with a summons and
complaint seeking a writ of possession under this section to
remove the former farm employee from occupancy of the farm
housing. The notice shall include the following statements, in
(1) YOUR EMPLOYMENT AND HOUSING BENEFIT HAVE BEEN TERMINATED.
(2) YOUR EMPLOYER HAS FILED A LEGAL PROCEEDING IN _____ COUNTY
SUPERIOR COURT TO OBTAIN A COURT ORDER DIRECTING YOU AND ANY
FAMILY OR HOUSEHOLD MEMBER COHABITATING IN THE DWELLING TO VACATE
AND LEAVE THE DWELLING AND REMOVE ALL OF YOUR POSSESSIONS. THE
ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE NUMBER OF THE COURT ARE AS FOLLOWS:_____.
(3) THE COURT WILL HOLD A HEARING ON YOUR FORMER EMPLOYER'S
REQUEST FOR A COURT ORDER DIRECTING YOU TO LEAVE AND VACATE THE
DWELLING. THE HEARING WILL BE HELD ON ___ at ___ in the ___ AM/PM
AT THE COURTHOUSE AT THE ADDRESS LISTED ABOVE. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT
TO BE SERVED WITH NOTICE OF THE HEARING AT LEAST TEN DAYS PRIOR TO
THE HEARING DATE. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO APPEAR AT THIS HEARING. AT
THE HEARING, YOUR FORMER EMPLOYER MUST PROVE THAT THE DWELLING IS
NEEDED FOR HOUSING A REPLACEMENT EMPLOYEE AND THAT YOUR FAILURE TO
VACATE IS CAUSING ACTUAL HARDSHIP.
(4) IF YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUR EMPLOYMENT WAS TERMINATED
WRONGFULLY, THAT YOUR DWELLING HOUSE WAS NOT HABITABLE OR IF YOU
HAVE ANY OTHER CLAIM AGAINST YOUR FORMER EMPLOYER, YOU MAY FILE A
COUNTERCLAIM AGAINST YOUR FORMER EMPLOYER AS EXPLAINED IN THE
SUMMONS AND COMPLAINT THAT ARE BEING SERVED UPON YOU WITH THIS