Mind you, this is simply my opinion and I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. It should also be noted that while this is my opinion it’s also coupled with my loss of faith in the human race’s ability to do the right thing.
Just-cause evictions: In Vermont a landlord can deny a lease renewal without stating a reason, which on the surface seems really unfair and unjust. On the one hand, I think if you’ve got a bad tenant, you don’t have an issue stating why you’re not renewing that lease. When I was a renter, I lived among some of those tenants, got into a few altercations with those tenants and was forced to enforce my own right to quiet enjoyment. My landlord at the time claimed that he was powerless to evict in a timely manner. But when he was able to evict, he did so without prejudice; it was nearly eight months after the first major aggression, however. Nobody should have to live like that, especially when they are abiding by the rules.
But here we are in this housing crisis. Rents right now are being pushed to ridiculous levels because of the housing crisis. Current renters facing lease renewal are paying what was considered fair market value and that can make them vulnerable in this climate.
So, on the one hand, I could state that landlords are not renewing rents (old rents) in favor of jacking the price up for the next person. If that’s the reason, then I’m sorry, you’re going to need to fabricate some real reasons and greed can’t be one of them. I watched it happen during the pandemic to at least five people I know that were renting; their leases were coming up and their landlords were not renewing them simply because they could get double what their current tenant was paying. These were good tenants, not problematic, just not in a place where they could afford to pay hundreds of dollars more in rent, so they were forced to move. I understand capitalism, I’ve never much cared for the way people use it as a shield for bad behavior. If you think you can rent your space for double what the market can bear, hallelujah, good for you. But if you’re doing it off the back of someone, go screw yourself.
Just-cause evictions can also lend themselves to a bunch of discriminatory behaviors, too. I wish I didn’t have to bring that up, but it’s true. My father has always said a bad person is a bad person regardless of their color or race, and I agree with that. If you’re a landlord and you’re dealing with a disruptive tenant, and a bad tenant, then the state and towns really need to back you up more. From my firsthand experience I can tell you that landlords are fairly powerless when it comes to removing a bad tenant. Conversely, they can remove good tenants pretty easily, at least at the end of a lease.
Brattleboro Common Sense put forth a proposal for vote at Town Meeting that includes some very reasonable suggestions: limit rent increases to 12 percent at the end of a lease; authorized evictions for all the obvious stuff that would include some verification; not renewing a lease because a family member is moving in (again, there would be provision in place to make sure nobody was abusing it). All fairly common-sense things that landlords largely agreed with. I had a chance to read through the original document prior to someone editing it to add a line stating that leasing shall automatically be renewed in perpetuity (which is completely unrealistic and frankly dumb). I did speak with Brattleboro Common Sense people, and they assure me that the “In perpetuity” was not part of their proposal and further are disappointed that it was added.
At the end of the day, it’s simply a shame that we must govern people to do the right thing, to be kind, and to not cause anyone any hardship. But we do and here we are. This doesn’t affect just Brattleboro, but all of Vermont. Now the conversation must be had on town and legislative levels to protect people from people! What the hell is up with that?