Handling a Tenant's Property in Vermont: After an Eviction

Learn the rules landlords in Vermont must follow to deal with property abandoned by a tenant after an eviction.

If you’ve won an eviction lawsuit in Vermont, you may feel like tossing the tenant’s belongings out into the street. But Vermont law sets out specific procedures for dealing with a tenant’s property after an eviction.

The tenant moved but left property behind. Can I clear out those belongings myself?

Yes, you can, but not right away. You must wait 15 days after the eviction occurred and you took legal possession of the rental unit before disposing of the tenant’s property. If the rental unit was a mobile home, then you must wait at least 40 days after the eviction occurred (see Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12 § 4854a).

What happens after I remove the tenant’s property?

After the 15 days have ended, you can immediately dispose of or sell the property, without giving notice to the tenant (see Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12 § 4854a).

Keep in mind that you are not allowed to charge the tenant for storage or moving fees related to the tenant’s property during this time, so you might want to consider leaving the property in the rental unit during the 15-day period if that is a possibility for you.

How long does the tenant have to reclaim the stored property?

The tenant has 15 days to reclaim the property after the eviction occurs. If the tenant contacts you during this 15-day period, you must give the tenant reasonable access to the property, and you cannot charge the tenant for storage or moving costs related to the property (see Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12 § 4854a).

Do I need to notify the tenant before disposing of the property?

No. Under Vermont law, you are not required to notify the tenant before disposing of or selling the tenant’s property. The tenant was notified before the eviction occurred, and that is all the notification that is required (seeVt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12 § 4854a).

If I decide to sell the tenant’s property, who gets the money?

Vermont law does not provide explicit instructions on how to sell a tenant’s property after an eviction. If the tenant’s property is valuable and you decide to sell it, you should probably consult a lawyer first to make sure you are following best practices.

When should I contact a lawyer?

A qualified lawyer can help you find and understand any rules that apply to your situation. It’s particularly wise to consult a lawyer if you think the abandoned property may be very valuable or if you have any reason to believe the tenant may cause problems later. A good lawyer can help protect you from claims that you have stolen or destroyed a tenant’s property.

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