The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 24: Municipal and County Government

Chapter 123: MUNICIPAL HOUSING CODES

24 V.S.A. § 5003. Powers of municipalities



§ 5003. Powers of municipalities

(a) For the purposes of promoting the public health, safety, morals or general welfare, and for the purpose of making dwellings and dwelling premises safe, sanitary and fit for human habitation, a municipality may adopt, amend and revise an ordinance for the establishment and enforcement of minimum standards for dwellings. Any such ordinance shall be adopted, amended or revised in the manner prescribed in sections 1972 and 1973 of this title. Any nationally recognized code, rule or regulation or portions thereof regarding minimum standards for dwellings and dwelling premises that has been printed in book or pamphlet form may be adopted by reference.

(b) Any ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter shall include:

(1) Provision that any order provided for in this chapter shall be recorded in the office in which a deed of the property would be recorded as provided by law, and the order shall thereby be effective against any purchaser, mortgagee, attaching creditor, lien holder or other person whose claim or interest in the property arises subsequent to the recording of the order;

(2) A relocation program for those persons displaced by any action taken pursuant to subsection (c) of this section;

(3) Provision that when the enforcing officer finds that any order issued under this section has been complied with, he or she shall issue forthwith a cancellation of the order.

(c) Any ordinance adopted pursuant to this chapter may include:

(1) Minimum standards with respect to facilities and equipment in dwellings including, but not limited to, provisions relating to kitchen sinks, flush toilets and lavatory basins, bathtubs and showers, hot and cold water lines, rubbish and garbage storage and disposal facilities, cooking facilities, water heating facilities, window screens, and provisions for elimination and prevention of insect and vermin infestation;

(2) Minimum standards with respect to lighting, ventilation, refrigeration, and heating including, but not limited to, provisions relating to window area, room light and ventilation, electrical outlets, heating facilities, lighting of halls and stairways, and refrigerated storage space;

(3) Minimum standards relating to the healthful, safe and sanitary maintenance of parts of dwellings and dwelling units including, but not limited to, provisions relating to weather-tight and rodent-proof foundations, floors, walls, ceilings, roofs, windows and doors, condition of chimneys and flues, condition and repair of stairs and porches, condition of plumbing fixtures, imperviousness of floor surfaces to water and functioning of facilities, pieces of equipment, and utilities;

(4) Minimum standards with respect to space, use and location including, but not limited to, provisions relating to floor space per occupant, size of rooms, bathroom glasses, ceiling height, cellar and basement occupancy, and means of egress;

(5) Minimum standards with respect to the provision of features for the safety of occupants including the installation and maintenance of flameproof and fireproof materials and the installation and maintenance of equipment to combat and prevent fires;

(6) Provisions fixing rights and responsibilities of owners, lessees, mortgagees, operators and occupants for the condition, maintenance, use and occupancy of dwellings and dwelling premises, including security deposits. An ordinance relating to security deposits may not limit how a security deposit is held;

(7) Provisions that the enforcing officer may enter, examine and survey all dwellings and dwelling premises at any reasonable time between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and that the inspection shall be made so as to cause the least amount of inconvenience to the owner or occupant, consistent with the efficient performance of the duties of the enforcing officer, except that the enforcing officer may be authorized to enter, examine and survey all dwellings and dwelling premises at any time when an emergency tending to create an immediate danger to public health or safety exists;

(8) Provision that if entry for inspection is resisted or refused, a search warrant for entry may be issued by a district or superior judge upon presentation of affidavits establishing probable cause. Standards for determining probable cause may be the passage of time between inspections, the nature of the dwelling, the condition of the area or the need to determine if there has been compliance with a repair order previously issued but need not necessarily depend upon specific knowledge of the condition of the particular dwelling;

(9) Provisions that the enforcing officer may issue a notice of violation and order the repair, alteration or improvement of a dwelling or dwelling premises directed to the owner or other person responsible therefor under the ordinance;

(10) Provisions that the enforcing officer may declare any dwelling or dwelling premises unfit for human habitation if he or she finds that conditions exist in the dwelling which are a serious hazard or immediate peril to the health, safety or welfare of the occupants thereof, the occupants of neighboring dwellings or the general public;

(11) Provisions that whenever any dwellings or dwelling premises are found by the enforcing officer to be unfit for human habitation because of defects which constitute a serious hazard or immediate peril to the health, safety or welfare of the occupants of the dwelling or the public, the enforcing officer may:

(A) Order the dwelling or dwelling premises to be vacated and secured until such time as he or she determines that the dwelling is again fit for human habitation;

(B) Order the repair, alteration or improvement of the dwelling or dwelling premises except that the owner shall have the right to vacate and secure the dwelling or dwelling premises within seven days after receipt of the order by the owner or the owner's agent;

(C) Initiate demolition proceedings pursuant to sections 3113, 3114, 3115 and 3116 of this title;

(12) Provisions that the owner of any dwelling which has been found by the enforcing officer to be unfit for human habitation in accordance with subdivision (11) of this subsection, shall not sell, transfer, mortgage, lease or otherwise dispose thereof until the owner has furnished the intended grantee, mortgagee or lessee a true copy of the order and has notified the enforcing officer, in writing, of his or her intent to sell, transfer, mortgage, lease or otherwise dispose of the dwelling, or until the enforcing officer has found that the conditions causing the dwelling to be unfit for human habitation have been corrected. A transferee, mortgagee or lessee who has received actual notice or constructive notice shall be bound by the order on the date of the transfer, mortgage or lease without service of further notice upon him or her by the enforcing officer;

(13) Provisions that the enforcing officer may make such regulations as may be consistent with the proper enforcement of any ordinance enacted under this chapter. (Added 1969, No. 270 (Adj. Sess.); amended 1991, No. 229 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)