Housing in Vermont: Info and Laws to Help You the Renter!

Finding an Apartment

  • Burlington Housing Authority
  • Vermont State Housing Authority
  • Champlain Housing Trust
  • Subsidized units – Directory of Affordable Rental Housing
  • For help – check out Community Action for listings of apartments

Renting a New Apartment – Application and Lease

  • In Vermont, it is illegal to charge an application fee to apply for an apartment
  • The law does not say you have to have a lease in Vermont, some leases are spoken between the parties.
  • Leases protect everyone and make it clear what the parties responsibilities are for the apartment
  • If you have a lease, make sure you have a copy and keep it in a safe place
  • Keep all receipts for rent that you pay

Your Right to Fair Housing

  • This means you have the right to the same chance to rent or buy a place you can afford and the right to not be discriminated against when you rent or buy a place to live.
  • Housing discrimination is when decisions are made about housing based on a person’s race, sex, disability, religion or other unlawful reason.
    • What are unlawful reasons to deny or limit housing?
      • Race
      • Color
      • Sex or Gender
      • National Origin
      • Language
      • Ethnicity
      • Religion
      • Age
      • Marital status (single, divorced, same sex marriage)
      • Disability
      • On public assistance
      • With children or pregnant
      • Being a victim of domestic violence
    • Are there examples of groups that are not protected?
      • Smokers
      • Criminal history
      • How to prove housing discrimination: this is hard to do, you have to be able to show that the reason a landlord or realtor did something based on one of the unlawful reasons above
      • You can ask for help from Vermont Legal Aid or the Human Rights Commission

You Have the Right to Safe Housing

  • All rented homes in Vermont have to meet basic health and safety rules. Some cities have extra rules, like Burlington.
  • You and the landlord are responsible for keeping the home “habitable” (safe to live in)
  • Who enforces the health and safety rules? Town Health Officers
  • Your landlord is not allowed to evict you if the reason is that you contacted the health officer – this is called retaliation

How to Get a Landlord to Fix a Problem in the Apartment:

  • Write a letter and ask them to fix the problem
  • Keep a record or all the dates and letters you sent the landlord asking them to fix things, or whenever you asked a health officer to inspect your home
  • If this doesn’t work, ask the Town Health Officer to inspect. You can also ask the Division of Fire Safety to inspect
    • The health officer should write a report, and if the problem is serious enough, order the landlord to fix the problem

Guests and Visitors

  • You have the right to have guests in your apartment, but your landlord gets to decide how many people can live there
  • If a guest causes problems when they visit, this is the tenant’s responsibility.
  • The landlord cannot enter your apartment whenever they want, they must give 48 hours notice and come over for the following reasons:
    • Make repairs
    • Inspect the apartment
    • Show the apartment to a new tenant
    • In an emergency – the landlord doesn’t have to give you any notice

Security Deposits/Late Fees

  • A security deposit is an amount of money a landlord can charge before a new tenancy to use to pay for any damages beyond normal wear and tear after the tenant moves out.
  • Usually, the landlord returns this money to you after you move out.
  • Sometimes, landlords charge extra pet deposits
  • What is normal wear and tear? Anything beyond regular damage or wear that happens in an apartment because people live there. Examples beyond normal wear and tear are, holes in walls, burns in carpet, broken windows, etc.
  • The landlord can use your security deposit to pay for this type of repair, if it was caused by the tenant. The landlord can also use the security deposit to cover any unpaid rent in Vermont.