How to Evict a Tenant (Process)
In order for a landlord to evict a tenant in Vermont, they must first issue an eviction notice (a “Notice to Quit”) and obtain a court order. The type of notice that must be used depends on the reasons for the eviction. Examples of why a tenant might be evicted include nonpayment of rent, violation of the lease agreement, or expiration of the rental/lease term. The notice must be in written form and be served to the tenant either personally or by certified mail.
Step 1 – Notice to Quit
The tenant must be served with an eviction notice. If they have failed to pay rent, they must be served with a Fourteen (14) Day Notice to Pay or Quit. If the tenant has committed a lease violation, the law requires that they receive a Thirty (30) Day Notice to Comply or Quit. Tenants who commit illegal and/or criminal activity on the premises of the rental property should be served a Fourteen (14) Day Notice to Quit. If the landlord wants to terminate a month-to-month or “at-will” tenancy, they must serve the tenant a sixty (60) or ninety (90) day notice of termination. Weekly rental agreements require a twenty-one (21) day notice period before the lease is terminated.
14 Day Notice to Pay or Quit – For non-payment of rent.
30 Day Notice to Comply or Quit – For tenants who have committed lease violations.
14 Day Notice to Quit for Illegal Activity – For tenants who commit illegal/criminal activity.
21 Day Lease Termination Letter – To terminate a week-to-week lease/rental agreement.
60/90 Day Lease Termination Letter – To terminate a month-to-month lease/rental agreement.
Step 2 – Serve the Notice to Quit
The landlord must serve the appropriate notice on the tenant by hand-delivery, certified mail, or first class mail. After delivery has occurred, the landlord must retain any proof of service, such as a mailing receipt or signed acknowledgment.
Step 3 – Complaint and Summons
If the tenant has not vacated the unit, paid the full past due amount for rent, cured the lease violation, or paid for damages by the end of the time frame stated in the notice, the landlord can file an eviction action within sixty (60) days from the end date listed on the notice. In Vermont, an eviction action is often referred to as an “Action for Possession.” For a landlord to file an eviction lawsuit, they will need to draft an Eviction Complaint (also called “Complaint for Ejectment”) and fill out a Summons form. The Complaint must contain the following information listed as numbered paragraphs: the address of the rental property, the full name(s) of the tenant(s), the date the tenant(s) began renting, whether the agreement is written or oral, the rental amount and when payments are due, a description of any lease rules that are relevant to the case, the reason(s) for eviction, and when and how the tenant was given notice.
Step 4 – File Forms With Clerk
Evictions in the State of Vermont are filed with the Civil Division of the Superior Court of the county in which the rental property is located. In addition to the Complaint and Summons forms, the landlord will need to attach copies of the lease, the eviction notice, and proof of service (return receipt for certified mail or acknowledgment of receipt signed by the tenant). The court will charge a filing fee, which the landlord must pay. If the landlord is unable to afford the filing fee, they can fill out and submit an Application to Waive Filing and Service Fees.
Step 5 – Serve Summons and Complaint
Once the suit has been filed, the tenant must be served copies of the Complaint and Summons, as well as any submitted attachments, by a sheriff or constable. Furthermore, the tenant must receive a blank Self-Represented Notice of Appearance form. The sheriff’s office will charge the landlord a fee for serving the documents. The tenant will be given twenty (20) days from the date of service to file a written Answer with the court. If the tenant does not submit an Answer within the twenty (20) day period, the court will most likely issue a default judgment against them (awarding the landlord with possession of the property). If the tenant will be representing themselves at the court hearing, they must fill out and submit the Self-Represented Notice of Appearance form. A tenant can stop an eviction suit if they pay the landlord the full amount owed in damages/back rent and legal fees before the landlord regains possession of the property.
Step 6 – Attend Hearing
If the tenant does file an Answer to the Complaint, a hearing date will be arranged. Both the landlord and tenant be in attendance at the court on the date of the hearing. Failure of the tenant to show up will result in a default judgment being awarded to the landlord, and the landlord’s absence will likely mean that the case will be dismissed. If the Judge rules in favor of the landlord, a Writ of Possession will be issued against the tenant ordering them to leave the property.
Step 7 – Remove Tenant
The tenant will be served with a copy of the Writ of Possession by the sheriff or constable. The Writ informs the tenant that they must vacate the rental property within ten (10) days. Once the tenant has been served by the sheriff or constable, the officer will give the landlord a Sheriff’s Return of Service form which must be filed with the court. If the tenant fails to move out of the rental unit by the end of the tenth (10th) day, the Sheriff can be asked to forcibly remove them from the premises. The landlord must retain any belongings that the tenant leaves behind for at least fifteen (15) days. However, they are not required to give the tenant any notice to collect their property.