To evict a tenant in Vermont, a landlord must file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. The landlord must follow very specific rules and procedures set forth by Vermont law in order for the eviction to be valid. This article will explain the basic rules and procedures landlords and property managers must follow when evicting tenants in Vermont.
A landlord who wants to evict a tenant in Vermont before the tenant’s lease or rental agreement has expired must have cause, or, in other words, a legally valid reason to evict the tenant. Vermont statutes set forth all the different types of legal cause, such as failing to pay rent, violating the lease or rental agreement, or committing an illegal act at the rental unit. When evicting the tenant for one of these reasons, the landlord must first terminate the tenant’s tenancy. This is done by giving the tenant notice (the type depends on the situation).
A landlord who wants a tenant to move, but does not have cause to evict the tenant, must wait until the tenant’s lease or rental agreement has expired. The landlord will still need to give the tenant written notice to move, though.
A landlord who wants to end a month-to-month tenancy must give the tenant written notice to move. The length of the notice will depend on a few factors.
If the tenant does not have a written lease or rental agreement, then the landlord must give the tenant one of the following notices:
If the tenant does have a written month-to-month lease or rental agreement, the notice requirements are different, as follows:
If the tenant does not move out of the rental unit in time, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 9 § § 4467(c) and (e)). Vermont Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy has more information on this topic.
If the landlord wants a tenant with a fixed-term lease (that is, a lease with a definite end date) to move but does not have cause to evict the tenant, then the landlord must wait until the lease has expired before expecting the tenant to move. However, the landlord will still need to give the tenant notice, similar to the notice described above. If the tenant has been living in the rental unit for two years or less, then the landlord must give the tenant a written 30-day notice of termination. If the tenant has been living in the rental unit for over two years, then the landlord must give the tenant a written 60-day notice of termination. If the tenant does not move out by the end of the appropriate notice period, then the landlord should stop accepting rent payments from the tenant and proceed with an eviction lawsuit (see Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 9 § 4467(e)).
Even though a landlord might have a valid legal cause to eviction a tenant, the tenant can still choose to fight the eviction. The tenant could have a valid legal defense to the eviction, such as the landlord discriminating or retaliating against the tenant. The tenant’s decision to fight the eviction could increase the legal fees of the lawsuit or allow the tenant more time to remain living in the rental unit. Tenant Defenses to Evictions in Vermont has more information on this subject.
A landlord can only remove a tenant from a rental unit by winning an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. Even after the landlord wins the lawsuit, the landlord is not the one who is authorized to remove the tenant. A law enforcement officer with a court order will be the one who actually performs the eviction. It is illegal for the landlord to try to force the tenant to move out of the rental unit. Illegal Eviction Procedures in Vermont has more information.
After an eviction, the landlord might find that the tenant has left behind personal property at the rental unit. The landlord must store the property for at least 15 days after the tenant has been served with a writ of possession (the court order authorizing the eviction) or the landlord has legally been given possession of the rental unit (whichever is later). The landlord is not required to give the tenant notice and can dispose of the property at the end of 15 days. If the tenant claims the property during the 15-day period, then the landlord must release the property to the tenant (see Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 12 § 4854a).
Landlords must carefully follow all the rules and procedures required by Vermont law when evicting a tenant; otherwise, the eviction may not be valid. Although these rules and procedures may seem burdensome to the landlord, they are there for a reason. Evictions often occur very quickly, and the end result is serious: the tenant has lost a place to live. The rules help ensure the eviction is justified and that the tenant has enough time to find a new home.