Remember: you have a fair and objective advocate on all matters related to renting rules, responsibilities and disputes!! Your advocate is: Vermont Tenants, Inc. Vermont Tenants Inc. is located at: 294 North Winooski Avenue, Burlington, Vermont; 05401 phone: (802) 864-0099 or 1-800-287-7971
Security Deposit Refunds - Legal Requirements
The landlord must return the security deposit by hand delivering or mailing it to the tenant’s last known address within 14 days from the day the landlord discovers the tenant has moved out or from the date the tenant actually moves out, if the tenant gives the landlord notice that he or she has moved. The security deposit return should include a written statement itemizing any deductions taken out by the landlord. It is to the tenant’s benefit to get notice to the landlord, along with keys to the apartment, on the date they move out. If the landlord fails to return the security deposit and statement within the 14-day period, the landlord must return the entire deposit.
A tenant who does not receive his or her deposit back or who disagrees with some of the deductions the landlord takes may go to Small Claims Court to try to recover the deposit. (See, “Using Small Claims Court”) Tenants of apartments in Burlington and Barre can go to their local Housing Board of Review. It is sometimes possible to avoid this process if the tenant and landlord can work out a compromise. The parties may want to try to negotiate before, or even after, a claim has been filed in Small Claims Court.
If the landlord willfully withholds or fails to return the security deposit and written statement, the landlord may, at a judge’s discretion, be ordered to pay the tenant two times the amount of security, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if the tenant goes to court.
What is “Normal wear and tear”?
Normal wear and tear is the deterioration which occurs normally with occupancy of a rental unit and which is not the result of negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse of the premises by tenants or their guests. [Definition from Vermont state law: “ ‘Normal wear and tear’ means the deterioration which occurs, based upon the reasonable use for which the rental unit is intended, without negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse of the premises or equipment or chattels by the tenant or members of his or her household or their invitees or guests.”]
A landlord cannot deduct from a security deposit the costs of ANY of the following things:
Painting (unless careless, negligent, accidental or destructive tenant activity or actions make repainting necessary when it normally would not be),
Re-advertising the apartment (except in some circumstances when the tenant has broken the lease) (See, “Breaking a Lease”)
Renovation of the unit.
A landlord may NOT deduct from a security deposit any funds unless the damage was caused by the tenant or their guests through negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse.
If the landlord attempts to make a deduction from your security deposit for anything that was NOT damage caused by negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse caused by you or your guests- then you should notify the landlord in writing that you do not intend to pay for these erroneous charges. Tenants of apartments in Burlington can go to the Burlington Housing Board of Review. It is sometimes possible to avoid this process if the tenant and landlord can work out a compromise.
--- For Questions: Contact Vermont Tenants Inc. at 864-0099.
--- Always send a written notice to your landlord and/or property manager informing him or her of the problem and of what actions you intend to take.
NOTE: This document is intended to serve as a general guide to tenants and does not constitute a legal opinion or legal advice regarding any specific situation.
Vermont Tenants, Inc. is located at:294 North Winooski Avenue,Burlington, Vermont; 05401(802) 864-0099 or 1-800-287-7971
Right to Information
6 years ago