Landlords must make sure the unit is “safe, clean, and fit for human habitation.” And the unit must meet building, housing and health regulations and laws. 9 V.S.A. § 4457(a).
“Habitable” means that the unit is built for a human to live in as a home, not a temporary shelter.
No matter the age of the unit you rent, it must be safe, clean and in good repair. It should not have a leaking plumbing or roof, outdated electrical wiring, peeling or chipping paint, or soft or spongy wood in floors, walls or windows, and must meet applicable building, housing, and health regulations.
Under the law, by renting a unit, the landlord promises that the unit is habitable. This is called the “warranty of habitability.” A warranty of habitability is implied in any rental agreement, whether it is in writing or verbal. The warranty of habitability cannot be waived, even if a written rental agreement states otherwise. 9 V.S.A. § 4454. A rental agreement that says you take the unit “as is” or that you are responsible for making repairs is illegal. For example, this clause in a rental agreement is illegal and unenforceable:
“Tenant accepts the premises ‘as is’ and waives any and all liability of landlord for damage arising from any and all known and unknown structural defects in the premises”
The unit must be habitable the whole time you live in it. So, the landlord must repair all the problems that come up. The landlord must also do whatever maintenance is needed. For example, in buildings built before 1978, the landlord must conduct an annual cleaning of painted surfaces in the common areas and make sure that there are no paint chips. 18 V.S.A. § 1759(5), (6).
A landlord cannot evict you because you asked for a repair or called an inspector for help getting a repair, or formed a tenant’s union. 9 V.S.A. § 4465.