The Eviction Process in Vermont: Rules for Landlords and Property Managers

An overview of Vermont eviction rules, forms, and procedures.

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.

Notice for Termination With Cause

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).

  • Fourteen-Day Notice to Pay Rent: If the tenant fails to pay rent when it is due, then the landlord can give the tenant a 14-day notice to pay rent. This notice must inform the tenant that the tenant has 14 days to pay rent or the landlord will terminate the tenancy. If the tenant does not pay rent within 14 days, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see  Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 9 § 4467(a)).  Eviction Notices for Nonpayment of Rent in Vermont  has more information on this topic.
  • Thirty-Day Unconditional Quit Notice:  If the tenant violates a material term of the lease or rental agreement, then the landlord can give the tenant a 30-day unconditional quit notice. This notice must inform the tenant that because of the tenant’s lease or rental agreement violation, the landlord is terminating the tenant’s tenancy at the end of 30 days. If the tenant has not moved out of the rental unit by that time, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (see  Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 9 § 4467(b)(1)).
  • Fourteen-Day Unconditional Quit Notice: If the tenant commits an illegal act, including illegal drug activity or acts of violence, then the landlord can give the tenant a 14-day unconditional quit notice. This notice will inform the tenant that because of the tenant’s illegal actions, the landlord is terminating the tenancy at the end of 14 days. At that time, the landlord can go to court and file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant (seeVt. Stat. Ann. tit. 9 § 4467(b)(2)).

Notice for Termination Without Cause

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.

Month-to-Month Tenancy

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:

  • Sixty-Day Notice of Termination: If the tenant has been living in the rental unit for two years or less, then the landlord can give the tenant a 60-day notice of termination. This notice must inform the tenant that the landlord is terminating the tenancy and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by the end of 60 days.
  • Ninety-Day Notice of Termination: If the tenant has been living in the rental unit for over two years, then the landlord can give the tenant a 90-day notice of termination. This notice must inform the tenant that the landlord is terminating the tenancy and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by the end of 90 days.

If the tenant  does  have a written month-to-month lease or rental agreement, the notice requirements are different, as follows:

  • Thirty-Day Notice of Termination: If the tenant has been living in the rental unit for two years or less, then the landlord must give the tenant a 30-day notice of termination. This notice must inform the tenant that the landlord is terminating the tenancy and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by the end of 30 days.
  • Sixty-Day Notice of Termination: If the tenant has been living in the rental unit for more than two years, then the landlord must give the tenant a 60-day notice of termination. This notice must inform the tenant that the landlord is terminating the tenancy and the tenant must move out of the rental unit by the end of 60 days.

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.

Fixed-Term Lease

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)).

Tenant Defenses to Eviction

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.

Removal of the Tenant

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).

Rationale for the Rules

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.

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