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HOUSE PROPOSAL OF AMENDMENT 2007-2008

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S.372

An act relating to evictions, unpaid rent and abandoned property in rental property

The House proposes to the Senate to amend the bill as follows:

First:  By striking Sec. 1 and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
Sec. 1.  9 V.S.A. § 4451(1) is amended to read:

(1)  “Actual notice” means receipt of written notice hand-delivered or mailed to the last known address.  A rebuttable presumption that the notice was received three days after mailing is created if the sending party proves that the notice was sent by first class or certified United States mail.   

     Second:  In Sec. 2 9 V.S.A. § 4461 in subsection (c) by striking the first two sentences and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

A landlord shall return the security deposit along with a written statement itemizing any deductions to a tenant within 14 days from the date on which the landlord discovers that the tenant vacated or abandoned the dwelling unit, with a written statement itemizing any deductions or the date the tenant vacated the dwelling unit, provided the landlord received notice from the tenant of that date.

     Third:  In Sec. 4, 9 V.S.A. § 4465(c) by striking the words “it may be presumed” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “there is a rebuttable presumption

     Fourth:  In Sec. 5. 9 V.S.A. § 4467 by striking subsection (a) and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(a)  Termination for nonpayment of rent. Termination for nonpayment of rent. The landlord may terminate a tenancy for nonpayment of rent by providing actual notice to the tenant of the date on which the tenancy will terminate which shall be at least 14 days after the date of the actual notice. The rental agreement shall not terminate if the tenant pays or tenders all arrearages prior to the termination date. A tenant may not defeat a notice to terminate by payment of arrearages more than three times in 12 months rent due through the end of the rental period in which payment is made or tendered. Acceptance of partial payment of rent shall not constitute a waiver of the landlord's remedies for nonpayment of rent.

     Fifth:  In Sec. 5, 9 V.S.A. § 4467(b), by striking subdivision (2) and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(2)  When termination is based on criminal activity, illegal drug activity, or acts of violence any of which threaten the health or safety of other residents, the landlord may terminate the tenancy by providing actual notice to the tenant of the date on which the tenancy will terminate which shall be at least 15 days from the date of the actual notice.

     Sixth:  In Sec. 5.  9 V.S.A. § 4467 by striking subsection (e) and inserting in lieu thereof the following:

(e)  Termination by landlord for no cause under terms of written rental agreement.  If the landlord terminates a tenancy in accordance with the terms of there is a written rental agreement, the notice to terminate for no cause shall be at least 30 days before the end or expiration of the stated term of the rental agreement, if rent is payable on a monthly basis and the tenancy has continued for two years or less. The notice to terminate for no cause shall be at least 60 days the rent is paid on a monthly basis and before the end or expiration of the term of the rental agreement if the tenancy has continued for more than two years.  The If there is a written week-to-week rental agreement, the notice to terminate for no cause shall be at least seven days, if rent is payable on a weekly basis; however, a notice to terminate for nonpayment of rent shall be as provided in subsection (a) of this section.

     Seventh:  In Sec. 5, 9 V.S.A. § 4467, in subsection (i) by striking the first complete sentence and inserting in lieu thereof the following;

All actual notices that are in compliance with this section shall not invalidate any other actual notice and shall be a valid basis for commencing and maintaining an action for possession pursuant to this chapter, chapter 153 of Title 10, chapter 14 of Title 11, or chapter 169 of Title 12, notwithstanding that the notices may be based on different or unrelated grounds, dates of termination, or that the notices are sent at different times prior to or during an ejectment action. 

     Eighth:  In Sec. 5, by adding a new subsection (k) to read as follows:

(k)  A notice to terminate a tenancy shall be insufficient to support a judgment of eviction unless the proceeding is commenced no later than 60 days from the termination date set forth in the notice.

     Ninth:  In Sec. 7. 12 V.S.A. § 4773 by striking the final sentence and inserting in lieu thereof the following: “A defendant may not defeat an ejectment action by payment of all rent in arrears, interest, and court costs more than one time in 12 months.  The 12-month period shall begin on the day the payment is made.”

     Tenth:   In Sec. 8. 12 V.S.A. § 4853a(b), before the final period by adding the words “but shall cease upon execution of a writ of possession

     Eleventh:  By adding two new Secs., Sec. 10 and Sec. 11, to read as follows:

Sec. 10.  20 V.S.A. Part 7A, chapter 181 is added to read:

Chapter 181.  RENtal Housing Safety and Habitability

§ 3201.  LEGISLATIVE PURPOSE AND INTENT

It is the intent of the general assembly to provide for rental housing safety and habitability and to establish a statewide rental housing inspection program and registry to achieve all the following goals:

(1)  Promote the health and safety of the citizens of Vermont.

(2)  Facilitate compliance with existing health and safety standards.

(3)  Provide support to municipal health officers.

(4)  Create a resource for tenants and landlords.

(5)  Enable communities to focus on problem properties.

(6)  Encourage a private sector response to a public health and safety need.

(7)  Reduce fire fatalities.

§ 3202.  SAFE RENTAL HOUSING TASK FORCE

(a)  A safe rental housing task force is created to consist of the following 12 members:

(1)  The director of the division of fire safety or designee.

(2)  The commissioner of the department of health or designee.

(3)  The commissioner of the department of housing and community affairs or designee.

(4)  The attorney general or designee.

(5)  The executive director of the Vermont housing finance agency or designee.

(6)  A representative of commercial landlords.

(7)  A representative of nonprofit landlords.

(8)  A tenant representative.

(9)  A municipal inspection program representative.

(10)  A town health officer from a municipality without an exempt program.

(11)  A regional revolving loan fund representative.

(12)  An architect.

(b)  The speaker of the house and the senate president pro tempore shall appoint members of the task force that are not ex-officio and shall designate a chair.

(c)  Before January 15, 2009, the task force shall:

(1)  Identify information to be gathered for the rental housing registry, develop a questionnaire for rental unit sites and coordinate with existing data collected by the department of health, the department of taxes, the department of housing and community affairs, and the department of public service.

(2)  Develop a simplified rental housing code, to include lead safety, habitability, and basic life safety standards.

(3)  Establish a priority for inspections based on factors including:  the age of the rental unit, a score of the rental units’ self-assessment, and complaints from rental units at the address.

(4)  Develop procedures for scheduled, complaint-based, emergency and time-of-sale inspections, including a time frame and a priority for scheduled inspections.

(5)  Develop standards for licensed rental housing inspectors to include:

(A)  Training standards.

(B)  A code of professional ethics.

(C)  Curriculum outlines and a delivery mechanism.

(6)  Recommend a fee structure necessary and appropriate to implement the inspection program and registry.

(7)  Establish a procedure for issuing a certificate of habitability.

(8)  Develop procedures to assure enforcement and compliance.

(9)  Make recommendations regarding the role of town health officers in regard to safe rental housing in municipalities without an exempt program.

(10)  Develop training and education resources for landlords and tenants, including all the following:

(A)  A rental housing code self-assessment checklist.

(B)  A one‑stop shopping resource for rental unit owners and managers that provides:

(i)  Lead safety, minimum housing habitability, and basic life safety standards available from one site.

(ii)  Coordinated training across disciplines for owners and managers of rental housing units.

(11)  Recommend incentives and develop a process for nonexempt municipalities to establish an inspection program.

(12)  Establish an implementation schedule, to begin July 1, 2009, that includes all the following:

(A)  Training of inspectors and certification by the department of public safety.

(B)  Collection of rental housing information for the registry.

(C)  Collection of fees.

(D)  Commencement of inspections beginning January 1, 2010.

(13)  Recommend staffing levels necessary to establish and maintain the program and provide for enforcement.

(14)  Recommend an appropriation sufficient to fund the certification program, licensing, complaint-driven inspections, enforcement, and the registry.

(15)  Develop a system for coordinating appropriate displacement services.

(16)  Develop a program and identify resources for repair and improvement.

(d)  The task force shall submit a written report on its progress on or before January 15 of each year to the house committee on general, housing and military affairs and the senate committee on economic development, housing and general affairs.

§ 3203.  RENTAL HOUSING SAFETY AND HABITABILITY FUND;

              ESTABLISHED

(a)  A rental housing safety and habitability fund is established in the state treasury for the purpose of creating a statewide rental housing inspection program to be administered by the department of public safety for the purposes of collecting and maintaining data about rental housing units in Vermont and providing education, training, and support to landlords and tenants to assure that the safety and habitability of rental housing are maintained for the benefit of owners, tenants, and communities.  The fund shall provide financing for scheduled, complaint-based, and emergency inspections of rental housing units, the enforcement of orders issued in conjunction with inspections, and enhancing communications among owners, tenants, and compliance personnel.

(b)  Proceeds from fees, grants, donations, contributions, and other sources of revenue that may be provided by statute or by rule may be deposited in the fund.  Interest earned on the fund and any balances remaining at the end of a fiscal year shall be retained in the fund.

§ 3204.  RENTAL HOUSING REGISTRY

The department of public safety in association with the Vermont housing finance agency, the department of health, and the department of housing and community affairs shall manage a database set up by a private contractor to include all rental housing, including rented single-family homes and rental units in owner-occupied multi-family buildings of two or more rental units and excluding vacation homes.

§ 3205.  RENTAL HOUSING SAFETY INSPECTOR LICENSING

               PROGRAM

The department of public safety shall establish and manage a licensing program for rental housing safety inspectors to begin by July 1, 2009.

§ 3206.  RENTAL HOUSING HEALTH AND SAFETY STANDARDS

The department of public safety shall adopt minimum standards that apply to existing rental housing.  The standards shall include life safety, electrical, plumbing, and boiler codes, the rental housing health code, and lead paint requirements.

§ 3207.  RENTAL HOUSING SAFETY INSPECTION PROGRAM

The department of public safety shall establish a cyclical and point-of-sale rental housing safety inspection program beginning January 1, 2010.

(1)  Regular inspections shall be carried out by a licensed rental housing safety inspector under contract with the unit owner to assure units meet the rental housing health and safety standards.

(2)  Complaint-driven inspections shall be carried out by a licensed rental housing safety inspector under contract with the state or the municipality.


§ 3208.  RULES

The department of public safety shall adopt rules to implement the recommendations of the safe rental housing task force to carry out the purposes of this chapter.  The department shall propose such rules no later than

January 15, 2009.

§ 3209.  EXEMPTIONS

Rental housing units subject to the jurisdiction of municipal housing programs organized pursuant to 24 V.S.A. chapter 123 are exempt from the provisions of this chapter.  This chapter shall not be interpreted to limit or decrease the authority of the exempt municipal housing program in regard to building, housing, and fire safety codes.  A municipal program may lose this exemption if the commissioner of public safety determines that any of the following is true:

(1)  The habitability and enforcement criteria, including standards for issuing certificates of habitability, are less stringent than those of the state program.

(2)  Regularly scheduled inspections of the municipal program are less frequent than those of the state program.

(3)  The municipal program permits rental of units that lack a current certificate of habitability.

(4)  Any other aspect of the municipal program is less stringent than the state program.

Sec. 11.  APPROPRIATION

In fiscal year 2009, there is appropriated from the general fund to the department of public safety the amount of $30,000.00 to be used by the department for the purpose of retaining a consultant to assist the safe rental housing task force in carrying out its duties under chapter 181 of Title 20.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us