ROADMAP: Getting Your Security Deposit Back in Vermont

Prepare for a Hearing

Video: The small claims court process in Vermont

In small claims court, your landlord has 30 days to answer you by mail. If they don't respond, you can ask the court to have a sheriff deliver, or “serve”, your lawsuit to them.

You will pay a fee to the sheriff. In 2020, the cost of sheriff service of a lawsuit ranged from about $50 to $100. If you pay a sheriff to serve the defendant and then win your case, the court will add the cost of service to the amount the defendant has to pay you. If you submitted the fee waiver form in Step 5 and the court approved it, you do not have to pay the sheriff yourself.

If the landlord still doesn't respond 21 days after being served by a sheriff, you can ask the small claims court for a “default judgment.” This means you would win without a hearing.

If the landlord does give you a written Answer and they disagree with you, you will have a hearing.

The landlord's Answer may include “counterclaims” against you if they think you owe them more money.

Prepare for your hearing by gathering these things:

  • exhibits (items such as photos and receipts)
  • testimony (statements from you and other witnesses)

Good evidence is based on a person's own knowledge about a specific event.

Example: It's good evidence for your friend to say they were there when you did a moveout inspection and they didn't see a large stain on the carpet. It's not good evidence for your friend to say you are always careful and clean and would never leave a stain behind.

For any exhibits you want to use, make enough copies for yourself, the landlord and the judge.

If you have a hearing with the Burlington Housing Board of Review, get ready in the same way.


Video: Overview of getting ready for a court hearing in Vermont and what to expect

Updated: Nov 16, 2021