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Legislature holds hearings on rental housing safety

By: Mia Watson on 1/23/2018

The Vermont House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs is holding hearings on rental housing health and safety issues. The Committee will hear from tenants, advocates, and health and housing experts on their concerns regarding unsafe rental conditions and gaps in health code enforcement.  

This action comes as a new report has been released from Vermont Legal Aid, documenting renter difficulties in resolving health and safety issues with landlords. The report finds that many tenants are not fully aware of their rights, and that fear of eviction and lack of affordable housing alternatives frequently prevent tenants from reporting health code violations. It also reports that town health officers are often unpaid volunteers who lack the experience and time to adequately address health code violations. The report calls for a statewide system to register and certify rental properties, increased penalties for health code violations, professionalization of the role of town health officers, and the creation of more affordable rental housing.

36% of Vermont’s rental housing stock was built before 1940, which is much higher than the national average, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Older homes are often poorly insulated and have ineffective heating systems. Safety issues such as asbestos, lead paint, rodent infestations, and leaks that can cause mold are also more likely to be encountered in older dwellings.

Eight years ago, the Legislature established a Rental Housing Safety and Habitability Study Committee to study these issues. The committee was chaired by VHFA’s Executive Director, Sarah Carpenter. The committee issued a report with some of the same recommendations that Vermont Legal Aid now proposes. "Sorry to say that not a lot of them have been implemented in the last seven years," remarked Carpenter. "It's time to resurrect them."

The House hearings are scheduled to continue this Thursday, January 25th.   




The Legislature may do and say what they want in absence of reality. Reality, Vermont is losing population. Isn't in any way shape or from a welcoming location for any development beyond initial startup. There are minor exceptions but they do not have stockholders to answer too.

The focus now and in the past, is always been punitive in nature. The focus should be on how can with government assistance help to make owners and developers successful in making money. Government is the business of Vermont. Bureaucracy is a product in Vermont. Red tape is a crop in Vermont.

So, what will happen? The same old tried and true solutions. More Red tape, more oversight, more process/taxes/fees. The state and its leaders have no concept of economics and/or business.

I spent 20 years working for profit and not-for-profits to include VHFA and VSAC. All good people, but none with the understanding of how the world really functions. All good advocates but not one ever had to produce a product or make a profit. Someday I’ll write a book about what really happens and what really counts within these organizations.