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Requirements for a proper Notice of Termination of Tenancy

Giving the tenant a Notice of Termination of Tenancy that complies with Vermont law is a critical first step. If the notice does not contain the required information the ejectment action could be dismissed, forcing the landlord to start the process all over again. In general, a Notice of Termination of Tenancy must include two things: 1) the reason for the tenancy being terminated and 2) the date on which the tenancy is being terminated.

The reasons for terminating a tenancy recognized by Vermont law are broad, and even allow for a "no cause" eviction. But some reasons for terminating a tenancy are illegal. Both state and federal law prohibit housing discrimination. In Vermont it is illegal for a landlord to make housing choices (including whether to terminate a tenancy) on the basis of the tenant's race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, age, persons with minor children, gender identity and receipt of public assistance.

It is also illegal in Vermont to evict a tenant in retaliation for reporting concerns about habitability issues at the premises to a state or local agency such as the health department or the Fire Marshall.

The most common reason for terminating a tenancy is non-payment of rent. By law, the tenant has an opportunity to avoid the termination of the tenancy by paying all rent due and owing through the end of the rental period in which the payment is being made. (The tenant can exercise this right only once in a 12 month period.) As such, when non-payment of rent is the reason given, the Notice of Termination of Tenancy should accurately state the amount of rent due. The clearer the Termination Notice the less likely it will be dismissed by a judge.

A breach of a rental agreement is also a lawful reason to terminate a tenancy, if the breach is of a "material term" of the agreement or if the tenant is engaged in criminal activity, illegal drug activity or acts of violence that threaten the health and safety of other tenants.

Vermont also recognizes "no-cause" as a reason to terminate a tenancy. Essentially a landlord can terminate a tenancy for any reason (provided it is not discrimination or retaliation) even if the tenant is current on rent.

The Notice of Termination of Tenancy must also specifically state the date on which the tenancy will terminate. A notice that tells the tenant that the tenancy is terminated "as of the date of this notice" is effective and any ejectment action brought on such a notice will likely be dismissed. Calculating the proper termination date will depend on the reason given for the termination. It is important to keep in mind that calculating the termination date also depends on when the tenant gets "actual notice" of the termination. In other words, the clock does not start ticking until the tenant gets actual notice that the tenancy is being terminated.

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The Law Office of Robert A. Brazil, PLLC
P.O. Box 468
Star Theater Building
Saint Johnsbury, VT 05819
Phone: 802-424-0220
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