You must not damage any part of the unit. Do not remove any fixtures or mechanical systems. 9 V.S.A. § 4456 (a). You can’t take apart the smoke or carbon monoxide detectors. Do not do anything that makes the unit violate health or building regulations.
You must keep the unit in decent and clean condition
- Your unit rental should be clear of clutter so that it does not become a fire hazard.
- You must take your trash out of the unit, and must not store it on the porch or outside. Insects and rodents are attracted to stored trash and stored recycling.
- These obligations are also part of the occupant’s responsibilities under Vermont’s Residential Rental Housing Health & Safety Code.
Do not harm the unit beyond normal wear and tear
You must not damage the floors, walls, windows, doors, sinks, toilets, plumbing, electrical outlets, light fixtures or carpets.
You must not let your pets or guests cause damage. There is a difference between damage and normal wear and tear.
Examples of things that normally wear out:
- The mechanism inside a toilet tank
- Washers in faucets
- Floor finishes wearing down
- Carpets showing foot traffic
- Paint on walls showing where fingers have been, or the paint fades, or sometimes chips
Examples of things that can be considered damage:
- Holes in anything (walls, floors, doors, windows, screens)
- Things taken apart, or pieces removed (light fixtures, appliances, door locks)
- Food spills or other stains not cleaned up in or on appliances, bathtubs, floors, windowsills, carpets or walls
- Holes burned in anything
- Chips or dents in floors, walls, appliances, sinks, bathtubs
- Broken windows or torn screens
- Bedbugs or other insect infestation that you caused in your unit
Maintain heat, water, electric
You must keep on the utilities you agreed to pay for in the rental agreement.
- If you agreed to pay for heat, you must make sure there is heat so pipes don’t freeze.
- If you did not do something you agreed to in the rental agreement and there is damage to the unit because of it, you have violated the rental agreement and may be evicted or charged money. 9 V.S.A. § 4456(a).
- If something happens, and you know the heat or electricity will be shut off, it is better to notify the landlord before something is shut off, so the landlord can prevent the damage. The landlord can charge you for what you agreed to pay in the rental agreement and for any damages caused by your failure to do what you agreed. The landlord can also evict you.
Notify the landlord if you cause damage
If you, a guest or a pet causes any damage to the unit, notify the landlord promptly so that the landlord can make repairs. For some things you may want to do the repairs yourself. Only do that if the repair can be done by a person who does not need a plumber’s or electrician’s license. Don’t repair a furnace or a fuel hook-up yourself. Don’t do it if the repair requires a permit from the town. You could be financially responsible if your repair damages the unit, or a neighbor’s unit, or costs the landlord a fine for not following all applicable laws and regulations.
If a person gets in your unit without your permission and causes damage, file a police report and notify your landlord. Your landlord’s insurance may cover the cost of repairs for damage caused by a criminal act. If you do not report the incident, your landlord may try to hold you responsible for the damage.