Vermont Eviction Process
November 15, 2023
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Eviction In Vermont
If you own and rent properties in the state of Vermont, you are responsible for complying with Vermont eviction laws. In this article, we break down each step of the legal eviction process in Vermont.
Eviction Process in Vermont
- Landlord serves a 14- or 30-day eviction notice.
- Landlord files an eviction lawsuit with the court.
- Court serves tenant a summons.
- Tenant files an answer.
- Landlord and tenant attend court hearing and receive judgment.
- Tenant gets 14 days to move out.
- Sheriff returns to forcibly remove the tenant.
In Vermont, tenants can be evicted for failing to pay rent, violating the lease, holding over, engaging in criminal activity (including illegal drug activity), or otherwise threatening the health or safety of other residents.
1. Landlord Serves a 14- or 30-Day Eviction Notice
The first step in the Vermont eviction process is sending a formal notice. If any of the above lease violations occur, the landlord must first serve a Vermont eviction notice and state that the tenant has the appropriate number of days to remedy or cure the violation. There are three possible eviction notices a landlord may send in Vermont:
- Rent Demand Notice: 14 days to pay or quit. If rent is unpaid when due, the landlord may deliver this notice stating the amount of unpaid rent required to remedy the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate if it is not paid (not less than 14 days after receipt of the notice). The landlord can accept partial rent while pursuing an eviction, as doing so does not constitute a waiver of the landlord’s remedies for nonpayment (9 VSA § 4467(a)).
- Lease Violation Notice: 30 days to quit. If a tenant fails to comply with a material term of the rental agreement or the law, the landlord may deliver this notice stating the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate (not less than 30 days after receipt of the notice). The landlord is not required to provide an opportunity to fix or “cure” the violation (9 VSA § 4467(b)(1)).
- Unconditional Notice to Quit: 14 days to quit. If a tenant’s violation 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 deliver this notice stating the breach and the date on which the lease will terminate (not less than 14 days after receipt of the notice). The landlord is not required to provide an opportunity to fix or “cure” the violation (9 VSA § 4467(b)(2)).
Note that in order to support a judgment of eviction, the landlord must begin the proceeding within 60 days from the termination date included in the eviction notice (9 VSA § 4467(k)). For nonpayment cases, the tenant may, at any time, defeat an ejectment action by paying all rent in arrears, plus interest and court costs. However, the tenant cannot use this remedy more than once within a 12-month period (12 VSA § 4773).
For all evictions, the landlord may recover actual damages and reasonable attorney’s fees.
2. Landlord Files an Eviction Lawsuit with the Court
If the tenant has not cured the breach by the end of the notice period (or if the violation is uncurable and the notice period expires), the landlord can then file an eviction action in the Vermont Superior Court civil division. In Vermont, this action is called an “ejectment” (12 VSA § 4851).
The complaint includes:
- The case number
- The names of both parties
- The address of the rental property
- The date the tenant’s lease began
- The type of lease (written or oral)
- The rental rate and due dates
- A description of other lease terms relevant to the eviction
- The grounds for the eviction
- A statement verifying that the tenant was properly served the eviction notice
- Any other information to support the eviction claim.
- The date and landlord’s signature
The landlord should also attach a copy of the lease, the eviction notice, and a return receipt for the notice, if any is available. The landlord will be required to pay a filing fee at this time, which is always $295 no matter what county the case is filed in (Vermont Superior Court Civil Division Fees).
Expedited Rent Escrow Hearings
In some nonpayment actions, the landlord may request an expedited hearing by filing a Motion for Rent (a request that the tenant pay rent into court). The landlord can file this motion at the same time they file the complaint or at a later time. The landlord must include a signed affidavit stating the facts of the motion and explaining the agreement regarding rent.
In this case, a separate rent escrow hearing will be scheduled (prior to the eviction trial) after 14 days’ notice has been given to both parties. The tenant must file a written answer within the 14 days after the hearing to avoid a default judgment. During this time, any rent escrow order remains in effect and the tenant is still required to pay rent as it is due into the court. At any time, the landlord may apply to the court for disbursement of all funds due to actual danger of loss of premises or other personal hardship resulting from the loss of rental income. If the tenant fails to pay rent into court, the landlord is entitled to a judgment for immediate possession—in which case, the court will issue a writ of possession and the sheriff will remove the tenant at least five business days after the writ is served (12 VSA § 4853a).
Landlords can also request an expedited hearing for unlawful subtenant occupant, if the lease agreement prohibits subleasing. They would file a motion with an affidavit in the same way, after which a hearing will be held after ten days’ notice to the parties. If the court finds the tenant’s possession of the property unlawful, they will issue a judgment for immediate possession along with a writ of restitution. The sheriff will again remove the tenant when at least five days have passed since the writ was served (12 VSA § 4853b).
3. Court Serves Tenant a Summons
After the landlord files a claim for all other non-expedited cases, the court will issue a signed Summons (downloadable here). The summons demands the tenant’s presence in court to answer the landlord’s complaint and includes the date and time of the court hearing. The summons also includes:
- The case docket number
- A notification that the tenant is being sued.
- A warning that the tenant must file a written answer within 20 days to protect their rights
- The address of the landlord, the landlord’s attorney, or the Court where the tenant must send a copy of their answer
- A statement that the tenant’s answer must make any counterclaims against the landlord the tenant may have, or else the tenant may not be able to bring them up at all
- Where to find legal assistance
The summons must be served to the tenant along with a copy of the complaint. Usually, this must be done by the sheriff or constable, either via delivering the documents in person, leaving a copy with another resident of suitable age, or posting a copy on the front door. The landlord needs to provide the sheriff will the following forms:
- Complaint with any attachments
- A blank Answer form
- A blank Notice of Appearance for Self-Represented Party form
- A Motion to Pay Rent into Court form (if the landlord files one)
Per Vermont statutes, the fee to have the sheriff serve the above documents is $75 (32 VSA § 1591 (iii)).
Both parties have the right to request a trial by jury (12 VSA § 4852).
4. Tenant Files an Answer
After the summons has been served, the tenant must file a written answer, or response, within 20 days. As stated above, the answer gives the tenant an opportunity to present any counterclaims and otherwise explain why they should not be evicted.
If the tenant files a motion to dismiss or attends a rent escrow hearing, the answer deadline will be postponed to 14 days following the court’s decision on the motion (Vermont Judiciary).
5. Landlord and Tenant Attend Court Hearing and Receive Judgment
Vermont law does not specify how soon the court hearing will be held after the tenant’s answer is filed. When and how the hearing is scheduled may depend on the individual court the landlord is filing in.
On the day of the eviction hearing, the landlord should bring copies of the lease agreement, the eviction notice with proof of service, the complaint, and any evidence of the lease violation. Both the landlord and tenant will present their cases and any evidence to the judge, who will afterwards issue a judgment. If the judge rules in the landlord’s favor, a judgment will be entered for possession and all due rent, damages, court costs, and if the lease so provides, reasonable attorney’s fees.
The court will also issue a Writ of Possession on the same day the judgment is entered (unless the court orders a stay or delay for good cause). The writ will direct the sheriff of the county in which the property is located to serve the writ onto the tenant (12 VSA § 4854).
6. Tenant Gets 14 Days to Move Out.
After the writ is served by the sheriff, the tenant gets 14 days to move out of the rental property on their own (12 VSA § 4854).
7. Sheriff Returns to Forcibly Remove the Tenant.
If the tenant refuses to vacate and still remains on the property after 14 days, the sheriff will return to forcibly remove them and restore possession of the property to the landlord (12 VSA § 4854).
After an eviction, the landlord must store any personal property left behind by the tenant for at least 15 days after a writ of possession is served or the landlord is legally resorted to possession, whichever is later. If the tenant does not come to claim their belongings after the 15 days, the landlord may dispose of it without any notice or liability to the tenant.
If the court stays the execution of a writ of possession, then the landlord may dispose of any personal property remaining on the leased premises without notice or liability to the tenant one day after the landlord is restored to possession.
Evicting a Squatter in Vermont
A squatter is a person who moves into a vacant or abandoned property without getting permission from the owner or paying rent. Squatters can usually be charged as criminal trespassers and be evicted like any other tenant. However, some squatters can receive the right to possession by meeting certain state-determined criteria. In Vermont, squatters must have lived in the property for 15 continuous years to invoke Vermont squatters rights and claim right of possession (12 VSA § 501). Their possession must also be:
- Hostile/Adverse—The squatter must not have a valid lease with the owner
- Actual—The squatter must be actively residing on the property
- Open and Notorious—The squatter is openly and obviously living there.
- Exclusive—The squatter does not share possession of the property with anyone else.
- Continuous—The squatter must hold continuous and uninterrupted possession.
While relatively rare, if a squatter meets all these criteria, they have “color of title”: the right of legal ownership without having a written deed to the property. They can file an action for adverse possession in Vermont to legally obtain the title to the property. However, in most cases, a squatter will not meet the criteria and can be removed. If you think a squatter is living in your vacant property in Vermont, you should:
- Call local law enforcement.
- Determine whether the person is a trespasser or a squatter.
- If the person is a trespasser, they can be removed immediately by a police officer.
- If the person is a squatter, you must contact the sheriff’s office.
- Send the squatter an eviction notice as per Vermont eviction law.
- If the squatter does not vacate the premises by the end of the notice period, file for eviction and follow the typical eviction process.
- Only the sheriff can physically remove a squatter from your property. You cannot do so, and neither can a police officer.
Vermont Eviction Cost Estimates
This chart shows estimates of the approximate cost of an eviction in Vermont, according to civil procedure in the state and iPropertyManagement. A highly accurate estimate of an eviction is impossible to provide, as cases and circumstances vary so widely. Remember to factor in other losses due to an eviction as well, such as lost rent, time, and stress.
|Action||Approximate Cost (Superior Court)|
|Service of court summons by sheriff||$75|
|Service of writ of possession||$75|
|Notice of appeal filing fee||$120|
|Average locksmith fees||$160|
|Storage fees for abandoned property||Varies|
|Tenant turnover costs||Varies|
Vermont Eviction Time Estimates
The chart below shows an estimate of the duration of each part of the Vermont eviction process timeline. Keep in mind that the length of eviction cases varies widely depending on the complexity of the eviction, the court’s current caseload, and whether or not the tenant contests or appeals the lawsuit.
|Eviction notice period||14 or 30 days|
|Tenant response period||20 days after summons is served|
|Issuance of writ of restitution||Immediately|
|Time to quit after writ is posted||5-14 days|
- Vermont Judiciary, Landlord & Tenant – This site provides information about residential rental situations in the state of Vermont.
- Vermont Judiciary Fees – This page lists the various court costs and fees for the Vermont Superior Court (see ‘Civil Division’ for eviction filing fees).
The eviction process in any state can be long and complex, so hiring an eviction attorney is advised in most cases. It’s also important to note that municipalities and local governments often have stricter laws and requirements for landlords, so be sure to check local statutes as well as state ones. However, by reviewing the legal procedures and Vermont laws on eviction, you can feel more confident pursuing an eviction in this state.
Innago does not provide legal advice. The content and materials provided in this article are for general informational purposes only and may not be the most up-to-date information.