Rights and responsibilities

Rights and responsibilities of a landlord from beginning to end of tenancy

  1. Collecting security deposits
  2. Maintenance responsibilities
  3. Entering tenant-occupied premises
  4. Rent increases
  5. Ending a tenancy

Collecting security deposits

  • A landlord may collect a security deposit before the tenant moves in.
  • A security deposit is money paid by the tenant that the landlord uses to pay for any damage or outstanding expenses at the end of the tenancy.
  • At the end of the tenancy, the landlord may deduct appropriate expenses but must return any or all remaining security deposit money to the tenant within 14 days of the tenant moving out (See "Returning security deposits").

Maintenance responsibilities

Landlords must ensure that their rental property meets the minimum housing standards set out in the Vermont Rental Housing Health Code and the Vermont Fire and Building Safety Code through the tenancy period.

Mobile home lots

Mobile home lot owners are responsible for:

  • Installation and maintenance of the electrical service to the main electrical panel in the mobile home
  • Maintenance of water lines to a point at which the lines surface under the mobile home
  • Maintenance of the sewage disposal system to the point where it surfaces from the ground to service the mobile home

Entering tenant-occupied premises

  • Tenants are entitled to the "quiet enjoyment" of their rental property, and are entitled to their privacy.
  • For this reason, during a tenancy, landlords generally must have a tenant's permission before entering a rented property. By law, tenants must not unreasonably withhold permission.
  • To enter a rented property without a tenant's permission, a landlord must:
    • Have given 48 hours notice to the tenant
    • Enter between 9:00 am and 9:00 pm
    • Be entering for one of the following purposes:
      • To inspect the premises when necessary
      • To conduct necessary or agreed upon repairs, alterations or improvements
      • To supply agreed upon services
      • To show the apartment to prospective tenants, buyers, or workers
  • A landlord may only enter rented property without consent or notice if he or she has a "reasonable belief" that there is imminent danger to persons or property.

Rent increases

  • Landlords may increase rent for tenants, but only at designated times and with proper notice.
  • Landlords must:
    • Give tenants at least 60 days written notice before the first day of increased rent
    • Only raise rent at the beginning of a new lease term. Landlords cannot raise the rent during a lease term unless the lease specifically allows for it
  • Note: Burlington city ordinances require landlords to give 90 days written notice before a rent increase can take effect

Ending a tenancy

Notice requirements

In order to properly end a tenancy, the party who wishes to terminate the rental agreement must give the other party proper notice. The amount of notice depends on who the party is (tenant or landlord), the type of rental agreement between the parties, and for landlords — the reason for ending the tenancy.

Termination of tenancy by landlord

Reason for termination: Non-payment of rent Breach of rental agreement Sale of rental property No cause
Amount of notice landlord must give tenant: 14 days written notice, in which tenant fails to pay past due rent 30 days written notice, specifically stating cause of breach 30 days written notice 60 days written notice for month-to-month tenancies; 21 days written notice for week-to-week tenancies
Exceptions: If the breach is based on illegal or violent activity, notice can be shortened to 14 days If the tenant has a written lease for a set term, the lease transfers to the new owner for the duration of the tenant's term Tenants who have resided in property for more than 2 years must have 90 days written notice; written leases for a set term cannot be terminated unless there is a specific provision for it in the lease

Read more: Termination of tenancy by landlord

If a tenant remains in the rental property after the proper notice period has ended, a landlord can begin the official eviction process. For steps and details on the eviction procedure and additional details on reasons for termination, see the "Eviction" section under "Problems with Landlords."

Termination of tenancy by tenant

Type of rental agreement: Written agreement for set period of time (Term lease) Written or oral agreement with no specified length of time (e.g. Month-to-month)
Amount of notice tenant must give to landlord: One full rental payment period:
  • Unless the lease states that the tenancy terminates at the end of the term; or
  • The lease specifies a different notice period
One full rental payment period:
  • If month-to-month: 30 days
  • If week-to-week: 7 days
If no adequate notice is given: The tenancy becomes month to month after the lease expires The tenancy continues until proper notice is given

Note: Burlington city ordinances require more notice be given to a tenant before a lease can be terminated

Returning security deposits

  • Security deposits must be returned to tenants by hand or mail within 14 days after the tenant moves out.
  • Landlords can only use a security deposit to pay for:
    • Damage done to the property during tenancy that was:
      • Not part of normal wear and tear
      • Within the control of the tenant
    • Outstanding rent
    • Outstanding utility payments or other expenses owed to the landlord
    • Expenses required to move or store tenant's abandoned property
  • Landlords cannot deduct for normal wear and tear to a property or for damage caused by actions outside the control of the tenant.
  • Any deductions should be listed in an itemized statement and provided to the tenant.
  • Landlords who fail to return a security deposit within 14 days must return the entire deposit. If a court finds a landlord intended not to return the deposit within 14 days, the landlord can be liable to the tenant for double the amount owed to the tenant.
  • In general, landlords cannot deduct from the security deposit for any of the following reasons:
    • Routine maintenance
    • Painting
    • Re-advertising the apartment
    • Renovation of a dwelling unit

Read more: Returning security deposits

Note: Some municipalities have additional city ordinances regulating security deposits