Who is Responsible for Repairs?
Landlords are responsible for all repairs. Tenants are responsible for notifying the landlord that repairs are needed. Even if the damage done is the fault of the tenant, it is still the responsibility of the landlord to make the repair, or to hire someone else to make the repair. The tenant can be charged for damage that they caused, but they are not responsible for repairing it, only reporting it in a timely manner.

Repair and Deduct
In certain cases, tenants can make repairs themselves and deduct their expenses from the rent. This can be tricky, so we advise tenants considering this option to call the Vermont Tenants Hotline (802-864-0099) before attempting repair and deduct. Repair and deduct can be used in these specific circumstances, all of which must be met to legally withhold any portion of rent:

  • Minor Repairs Only
  • Cannot Deduct More Than Half a Month's Rent
  • Must Notify Landlord First in Writing and Wait 35 Days
  • Cannot Be Used For Repairs that Require a Permit
  • Cannot Charge For Your Time, Only for Materials Used
  • If the Work Requires a Licensed Contractor, One Must Be Used

If we have written a letter to the landlord and the issue has not been resolved in 35 days, we do have the right to make the repair ourselves, as long as the repair will cost less than half a month's rent, does not require a permit, and we are not doing work that requires a license that we do not possess. In Vermont law, see: (V.S.A., TITLE 9, Chapter 137, § 4459. Minor defects; repair and deduct)
Please call VT Tenants before deducting anything from your rent! (802) 864-0099

Major Repairs/Code Violations
For emergencies and major issues that violate Vermont health code, tenants have an obligation to inform their landlord immediately. Tenants may also report the issue to their local Code Enforcement Office or Town Health Officer. Issues that constitute a code violation can include:

  • No running water
  • No working toilet
  • No heat
  • Leaking roof
  • Standing Water
  • Mold
  • Windows that are broken or do not open
  • Bedroom windows that you cannot escape from in case of fire
  • Exteriors that let in rain or snow, or that do not lock
  • No smoke or carbon detectors

If the code violation is not resolved tenants have the right to:

  • Withhold rent (in cases where lives are in immediate danger only)
  • Ask the court to force the landlord to make the repair
  • Be reimbursed for damages
  • Terminate their tenancy early with reasonable notice

Vermont Tenants will never recommend withholding rent without first consulting a lawyer. If you believe you have a major code violation, please call our hotline for assistance. (802) 864-0099
In Vermont law, see: (V.S.A., TITLE 9, Chapter 137, § 4458. Habitability; tenant remedies)