Lawmakers looking to prevent landlord and tenant disputes - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Lawmakers looking to prevent landlord and tenant disputes

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MONTPELIER, Vt. - Disputes between landlords and tenants can take weeks to iron out even if they never make it to court. A new bill in the Vermont House of Representatives hopes to stop those disputes before they even start.

Ralph and Sean Garbart spent months trying to get an unwanted tenant out of their home. They had written into their lease that the home was not to be subletted, yet they still found the process of evicting the illegal tenants arduous and frustrating.

"We've heard more and more cases of where landlord/tenant law is not working for people," said Representative Kesha Ram, a Democrat from Burlington.

Ras proposed a bill that she hopes would make it easier for landlords to keep out unwanted tenants.

"Every time we look at landlord/tenant law, we try to look at it with an eye toward where we find balance," Ram said.

The bill makes it illegal for a tenant to sublet without the landlord's approval, and it attempts to ensure tenants "quiet enjoyment" of their residence, free of persistent problems caused by others living in the building.

"What that does is limit liability and protect those tenants as well as give the landlord the information they need in case there is a problem," Ram noted.

Angela Zaikowski, the director of the Vermont Apartment Owners Association does not currently support the bill over questions about the bill's balance. She also says the proposal would not affect how difficult eviction procedures can be. "Because that's ultimately something that we're looking for is something that's fair to landlords, something that's fair to tenants," Zaikowski said.

Renters must wait 30 days before they can even start the eviction process.

Zaikowski said, "This bill does not give the landlords additional tools to help them police these problems, to help them enforce these problems."

Ram's bill was not introduced in time for the House and Senate to debate it this year, but discussion on its proposals can begin as soon as the legislative session starts up next year.

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