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Understanding Your Rights: Renting in Vermont

"Renting is a two way street. The best way for owners and renters to have a successful experience is to work together. Renting is also a legal relationship. It works best if it is seen by all parties as a Business Relationship." Angela Zaikowski, Esq. & Pam Favreau-Zugaro (CVOEO)

If renting is truly a two-way street, how do we get all parties on the same page? What resources are available for property owners, property managers, and renters to review so they all "speak the same language"?

To start, the State of Vermont's Agency for Commerce and Community Development has online Resources for Renters and Landlords as well as Resources for Homeowners, which we recommend everyone - including our own Mountain View Property Services employees - take the time to read.

The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) has also produced a great document entitled Finding Common Ground: the Definitive Guide to Renting in Vermont, which outlines responsibilities and rights for property owners and renters alike.

A silhouette of a Vermont family walks along Lake Champlain
A Vermont family walks along Lake Champlain at sunset, at ease because they know their rights as renters.

Our favorite CVOEO publication must be their An Illustrated Guide to Vermont Renter's Rights, which trumps a lot of myths we frequently hear, and also nicely covers Fair Housing.

Did you know? If a tenant chooses to move out early, they can be forced to pay rent on the unit until (1) the remainder of the lease is up, (2) the notice period is over or (3) the apartment is filled. In the case that your landlord does not make a major repair in a reasonable amount of time (meaning there is a serious health or safety violation), you may have the right to alternative solutions, like withholding rent, fixing it yourself, or even moving out early. *Note: each of these remedies is only available in certain circumstances, so call CVOEO's Vermont Tenants hotline at 802-864-0099 before you try any of them!

Not to be outdone, there are also dozens of Vermont code information sheets and permit requirements to keep in mind, to include CO and smoke alarm requirements or the presence of lead paint, as well as regulations in regards to egress windows, window wells, stairs, heating vents, and handrails, just to name a few.

Safe, sanitary, vacant rental available for new tenants.
Safe, sanitary, vacant rental available for new tenants.

There's also Vermont's rental housing health code, that provides for requiring heat once the outside temperature is less than 55°F, keeping all common areas free of infection by pests and bedbugs, and the requirement to provide a sanitary place to store, prepare and serve foods, including the presence of a kitchen sink.

Did you know each unit is also specifically required to have a (1) flush toilet, (2) sink and (3) bathtub or shower located in a room, or rooms separate from the habitable rooms, and which affords privacy? Talk about the State looking out for our best interests!

Vermont's rental housing health code covers A LOT and certainly helps protect both homeowners and renters alike. These above guides keep Vermonters out of the "grey zone" and know exactly what is and is not allowed.

Feeling overwhelmed by the need to know it all? Partnering with a property management team takes that burden off your shoulders. Contact us today with your questions, we look forward to hearing from you.

Micah, Owner


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