Vermont Rent Control Laws in 2024

Vermont does not have statewide rent control laws that limit how much a landlord can raise rents each year. However, landlords in Vermont are still required to follow proper procedures when increasing rent on tenants. There are also some protections in place for tenants against excessive rent hikes. 

The city of Burlington has implemented a rent control ordinance that does impose limits on how much rents can be increased annually in the city. Burlington's ordinance is unique in Vermont and provides stronger protections for tenants in the city.

Overall, Vermont aims to balance the rights of landlords and tenants. Landlords have the right to increase rents with proper notice, but tenants are protected from drastic rent hikes and illegal practices through lease agreements and notice requirements. Understanding the applicable laws and rental agreements is key for both landlords and tenants when navigating rent increases in Vermont.

Rent Increase Notice Requirements 

In Vermont, landlords must provide proper written notice before raising rent on tenants. The required notice period depends on the location:

  • Statewide - For properties outside of Burlington, landlords must provide at least 60 days' written notice before a rent increase can take effect. 
  • Burlington - Due to the city's rent control ordinance, Burlington landlords must provide at least 90 days' written notice prior to a rent increase.

The written notice must state the new increased amount the landlord intends to charge. Notices should be delivered properly to each tenant, either via certified mail, by hand delivery to the unit, or as outlined in the lease agreement. Email notices may be allowed but do not count as proper written notice according to state law.

If a landlord does not provide the full required written notice period before raising the rent, the increase is considered improper and unenforceable. Tenants who do not receive proper notice as required by law have protections against the rent hike.

Allowable Rent Increase Amount

In Vermont, state law does not impose any limit on the percentage amount that landlords can raise rent. However, rent increases must be reasonable and justified based on factors like market rates and expenses. 

Landlords cannot arbitrarily raise rents by exorbitant amounts for no justifiable reason. Any rent increases should be comparable to prevailing rents for similar rental properties in the local market. Significant increases above the market rate may be considered unreasonable.

Tenants have the right to challenge unreasonable rent increases. Factors like the condition of the unit, amenities, recent repairs or improvements, and prior rental rates can all be considered in evaluating the reasonableness of a rent increase. Overall, rent increases should have a reasonable relation to the landlord's costs and market conditions.

While there is no cap on the percentage increase, landlords in Vermont are expected to justify rent hikes and should be prepared to provide evidence supporting the increase if challenged by a tenant. Raising rents requires balancing the landlord's right to profit and the tenant's right to reasonable housing costs.

Frequency of Rent Increases 

Unlike some areas that limit how often landlords can raise rents, Vermont does not have any laws restricting the frequency of rent increases for rental properties statewide. Landlords can raise rents as often as they want, as long as they provide proper notice before each increase.

There is no limit under Vermont law on how frequently rents can be raised. Landlords could theoretically raise the rent every month if they wanted to, as long as they give tenants proper written notice 60 days in advance of each increase. The 60 day notice is required for every separate rent increase. 

While some landlords choose to only raise rents once a year, others may opt to raise rents multiple times a year. As there are no legal restrictions from the state on frequency, landlords have discretion in deciding how often to raise rents. However, landlords are still limited in how much they can raise rents each time.

The key requirement is that for each and every rent increase, the landlord must provide at least 60 days advance written notice to current tenants before the increase goes into effect. Tenants in Burlington are entitled to at least 90 days notice under the city's rent control ordinance. But statewide in Vermont, 60 days written notice is required prior to each and every increase.

Burlington Rent Control Ordinance

Burlington has a rent control ordinance that places limits on how much landlords can raise rents each year. This ordinance provides important protections for tenants against excessive rent increases.

Under Burlington's rent control law, rent increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) each year. Landlords can only raise rents by a certain percentage based on the CPI. 

For example, if the CPI is 2% for a given year, then landlords would only be allowed to increase rents by 2% in Burlington. The city adjusts the exact percentage annually based on the latest CPI data.

Burlington's ordinance limits rent hikes to a reasonable amount to prevent price gouging. This helps keep rental units affordable for tenants in a city with rising housing costs.

The rent control law also prohibits landlords from raising rents multiple times per year. There is a cap on how much rents can be increased each year. Landlords cannot exceed the percentage linked to CPI.

In addition to capping rent increases, Burlington's ordinance provides other important tenant protections:

  • Landlords must have just cause for eviction, such as nonpayment of rent. They cannot evict solely to raise the rent for a new tenant.
  • Tenants have enhanced rights to dispute unjustified rent increases and eviction notices.
  • The law prohibits landlords from taking retaliatory action against tenants who exercise their rights under the ordinance.

Burlington's rent control ordinance provides valuable protections for tenants faced with excessive rent hikes. The law keeps rental housing affordable and prevents tenant displacement in Vermont's largest city.

Lease Terms and Rent Increases 

In Vermont, the terms of a written lease govern rent increases during the lease period. Landlords cannot raise the rent during the term of a lease unless specifically allowed by the lease. 

For example, if a tenant signs a 12-month lease, the landlord cannot increase the rent until that lease expires in 12 months. The rent is locked in for the full term of the lease.

If the lease allows for rent increases, such as an annual increase, the landlord still must provide proper written notice as required by Vermont law. Typically leases require 60+ days notice for rent increases.

The lease terms will specify the frequency and amount of any rent increases allowed during the lease period. This provides predictability and stability for tenants during the lease term.

If the lease does not mention rent increases, then no increases are allowed until the lease expires. At that point, the landlord can raise the rent with proper notice. The landlord cannot raise the rent arbitrarily during the term of a lease without consent from the tenant.

In summary, during the term of a lease, landlords in Vermont must adhere to the agreed-upon rent amount and terms in the lease document. Rent increases are only allowed if specifically stated in the lease, with proper notice given. Lease terms protect tenants from unexpected rent hikes during the lease period.

Tenant Protections Against Rent Hikes

Renters in Vermont do have some protections against excessive or unreasonable rent increases from landlords. These protections include:

Proper Notice Required

As mentioned above, landlords in Vermont must provide proper written notice before raising rents. This notice period is 60+ days for most areas, and 90+ days in Burlington. Raising the rent without proper notice is illegal.

Increases Must Be Reasonable

While Vermont does not impose a maximum allowable percentage amount for rent hikes, the increases must still be reasonable. Raising the rent an excessive amount could potentially be challenged by the tenant or found to be an illegal constructive eviction.

Lease Term Protections

If a tenant has a current lease agreement in place, the landlord cannot raise the rent until that lease expires. The rent amount is locked in for the full lease term. Landlords also cannot make changes to other lease terms without agreement from the tenant.

By requiring proper notice periods, keeping rent increases reasonable, and abiding by lease terms, Vermont laws provide some important protections for renters against dramatic rent hikes. Tenants who feel their landlord is raising rents illegally or excessively may want to consult with a local tenants' rights group or attorney.

Landlord Obligations

Vermont landlords have certain legal obligations they must adhere to when renting residential properties. Key landlord duties include:

Maintaining the rental property

Landlords are required to keep the rental unit in a livable and safe condition that complies with housing codes. This includes keeping things in good repair and maintaining essential services like heat, electricity, plumbing, and appliances. 

Providing proper notice for entry and rent increases

Landlords must give tenants advance notice before entering rental units. They must also provide proper written notice before raising rents, per Vermont's rent increase laws.

Following the terms of the lease agreement

The lease is a binding contract between tenant and landlord. Landlords must comply with all agreed upon terms, like the rental rate, security deposit policies, and rules for the unit and building.

If a landlord fails to meet these core obligations, tenants have certain remedies available, like withholding rent or terminating the lease if major issues are not addressed. Landlords who violate the law may also face penalties and legal action. Overall, Vermont landlords must properly maintain their units, communicate needed changes, and honor the lease terms they agreed to.

Rental Agreements and Notices 

Rent increase notices in Vermont must be written and delivered to tenants properly according to state law. Verbal notices or notices provided through informal channels like text messages are not valid.

For month-to-month rentals, rent increase notices must be delivered at least 60 days before the effective date statewide, or 90 days in advance in Burlington.

For rentals with a fixed term lease, rent increases cannot take effect during the existing lease period unless specifically allowed by the lease. The landlord must provide proper notice before the end of the current lease if they want to increase the rent when the lease is renewed.

Notices of rent increases must be delivered directly to each tenant or left at the rental unit with someone of suitable age and discretion who lives there. Simply posting a notice or mailing it is not sufficient by itself.  

Additionally, the terms of the rental agreement or lease govern rent increases during the lease period. The landlord cannot raise the rent during the lease term unless the ability to do so is clearly written in the lease. Standard fixed term leases require the rent to remain the same throughout the lease period.

Tenants should carefully review their lease agreements and know their rights when it comes to proper notice periods and allowable rent increases in Vermont. Understanding lease terms and rental laws can help prevent disputes and ensure fair treatment for both parties.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most a landlord can raise rent in Vermont?

There is no limit under state law on the percentage amount that rent can be increased in Vermont, as long as proper notice is given. However, rent increases must be reasonable and justified. Excessive or retaliatory rent hikes could potentially be challenged. 

Is Vermont a landlord friendly state?

Vermont strikes a balance between landlord and tenant rights. Landlords have the right to increase rent with proper notice and terminate tenancies under certain conditions. But tenants also have protections against illegal rent hikes, improper entry, and retaliation. The state ensures fair treatment for both parties.

Can a landlord ask for first/last month rent plus security in Vermont?

Yes, Vermont landlords can require first month's rent, last month's rent, and a security deposit when signing a lease. However, the total security deposit amount is limited to no more than one month's rent. Security deposits also must be held in a separate escrow account.

What are the obligations of a landlord in Vermont?

Landlords in Vermont have several key obligations, including:

  • Providing proper written notice for entry and rent increases 
  • Following the terms of the lease agreement
  • Maintaining habitability - complying with housing codes and ensuring essential services
  • Making necessary repairs in a timely manner
  • Returning security deposits with itemized deductions within 14 days after tenancy ends
  • Not retaliating against tenants who exercise their rights
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