Before renting

The following is a summary of the minimum health and safety building standards a property must meet before it can be rented in accordance with the Vermont Departments of Health and Public Safety. Rented mobile homes must also meet these requirements. Depending on the age of a rental property, some regulations may apply differently. For the complete details on each requirement and definitions of key terms, see the Vermont Rental Housing Code and the Vermont Fire and Building Safety Code.

Some municipalities have their own local health and/or safety codes that may include stronger standards and more detailed requirements. (See "Communities with local codes.") Landlords and tenants should contact their local health officer, town clerk's office, or the local Board of Health for more information on local regulations. This information does not constitute a legal opinion or advice.

Sanitation facilities

  • Kitchen
    Every dwelling unit must contain:
    • A kitchen sink
    • Space to store, prepare and serve food in a sanitary manner
  • Bathroom
    Every dwelling unit must contain:
    • A flush toilet
    • A sink
    • A bathtub or shower
  • Water supply
    • Every dwelling unit must be connected to a supply of drinkable water of sufficient quantity and pressure to meet the ordinary needs of the occupant(s)
    • Every kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower, and tub must be capable of safely providing hot water
  • Sewage disposal
    Every dwelling unit must be connected to either:
    • A public sewage system; or
    • A properly operating septic system ("subsurface wastewater disposal system")
  • Trash disposal
    The owner of a dwelling must:
    • Provide and maintain appropriate trash receptacles
    • Assure that arrangements are made for removal
    • Keep common spaces in a sanitary condition and free of garbage
  • Insects and rodents
    The owner of a dwelling must:
    • Maintain all common spaces free from rodent and insect infestation
    • Be responsible for exterminating rodent and insect infestations:
      • In all common spaces
      • When the infestation exists in two or more dwelling units

For more information about what's required, consult the Vermont Rental Housing Code.

Building systems

  • Heating
    • Every dwelling unit must have heating facilities capable of maintaining a room temperature of 65°F (18°C) in all habitable rooms when the outside temperature is less than 55°F
    • All fuel-burning appliances must be inspected at least once every two years
  • Ventilation
    • Every habitable room in a dwelling unit must have ventilation to the outdoors, including at least one window or door that can be opened to the outdoors without tools
    • Every bathroom must have ventilation to the outdoors
    • All fuel-burning appliances must be vented to the outside of the building
  • Lighting/electricity
    • Every habitable room in a dwelling unit must contain:
      • At least two duplex electrical outlets; or
      • One duplex electrical outlet and a light fixture
    • Every bathroom and entrance must be adequately lit

For more information about what's required, consult the Vermont Rental Housing Code.

Structural elements

Every dwelling unit must be:

  • Weathertight — Constructed to prevent air infiltration and resist weather such as rain and snow
  • Watertight — Constructed to be substantially impermeable to the passage of water
  • Rodent proof — Constructed and maintained to prevent the movement of rodents
  • In good repair
  • Dry/mold free — As described in the Rental Housing Health Code
  • Compliant with applicable building codes

For more information about what's required, consult the Vermont Rental Housing Code.

Lead paint

Every owner of a pre-1978 rental unit in Vermont must:

  • Ensure Essential Maintenance Practices ("EMPs") are performed by a certified EMP practitioner
  • File an EMP Compliance Statement every year with:
    • The Vermont Department of Health
    • The owner's insurance carrier
    • The tenant

Read more: The dangers of lead paint

Life safety

  • Every dwelling unit must contain:
    • Working smoke alarms in all sleeping areas and in the immediate vicinity outside of each separate sleeping area:
      • With battery back-up
      • Directly wired to the building electrical service
      • If installed after June 15, 2009, smoke alarms must be the photo-electric only type
    • Working carbon monoxide alarms:
      • With battery back-up
      • Directly wired to the building electrical service
  • All exits and means of escape from dwelling units must be:
    • Of sufficient size to allow for escape in an emergency
    • Must be kept clear and unobstructed
    • Not used for storage, trash or recycling containers, or appliances
  • Access to windows and doors must not be blocked by furniture or other obstructions
  • For more detailed information on landlord obligations under life safety regulations, see the Vermont Department of Public Safety website and see the Vermont Department of Public Safety brochure

For more information about what's required, consult the Vermont Rental Housing Code.

Mobile homes

  • Mobile home — Means the structure or type of manufactured home that is designed for long-term and continuous residential occupancy.
    • A mobile home may be owner occupied or rented.
    • The rental housing health code applies to all rented mobile homes regardless of whether the home is sited on a mobile home lot or in a mobile home park.
    • Town health officers can investigate a complaint regarding a rented mobile home.
  • Mobile home lot — Means any parcel of land not located in a mobile home park that is leased to a mobile home owner and establishes a property right by way of a lease to the lot.
    • The rental housing health code requires every mobile home lot to have a safe connection to electrical services, water supply, and sewage disposal.
    • Town health officers can investigate a complaint regarding the connection to electrical service, water supply and sewage disposal for a mobile home lot.
  • Mobile home park — Means any parcel of land which contains, or is designed to accommodate, more than two mobile homes. Mobile home parks have habitability requirements for rented lots in mobile home parks that include:
    • Mobile home park lots must be safe, clean, and habitable; i.e. free from hazards, sanitary, and usable
    • Mobile home parks in general, including common areas, facilities and park roads, must be safe and fit for their intended use
    • Vermont's Mobile Home Park Law requires every mobile home park lot to have a safe connection to electrical services, water supply, and sewage disposal.
    • The rental housing health code does not apply to an owner occupied mobile home located in a mobile home park.
    • Mobile home park owners are subject to Vermont's Mobile Home Park Law.

For more information about what's required, consult the Vermont Rental Housing Code or contact the Vermont Department of Economic, Housing and Community Development or the CVOEO Mobile Home Project.