Vt. hotel-motel voucher recipients face pitfalls securing security deposits
MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Nearly 700 people getting evicted this week under Vermont’s hotel-motel voucher program could be eligible for a payout, but not everyone will be able to collect and some are crying foul.
People living in the hotels for more than four months could receive up to $3,300 for the security deposit paid for by the state. Any damages to the room will be subtracted. State officials say those payments can be used to find more permanent housing.
Vermont has paid over $150 million to hotels through the pandemic. Federal rules dictate that the security deposit that the state paid for go back to the client. That means that over $2.6 million could be paid out this month.
The state doesn’t have a breakdown of how many people stayed for more or fewer than four months. Security deposits on rooms occupied for fewer than four months go back to the state. But some hotels are holding onto those security deposits.
Anil Sachdev operates half a dozen hotels, including the Hilltop Inn in Berlin and the Holiday Inn in Rutland. He estimates most of the rooms need new rugs and mattresses, even if they don’t have excessive damage. That’s because some have been living in the rooms for years and some have had pets.
“If there is a dog and a cat that is living in the room, with the mess on the bed and on the carpet, you can’t rent that room to a regular guest. We have to change the beds and the carpet in almost 90% of the rooms,” Sachdev said.
He says rooms are up to $189 a night and that part of those funds are used for room upkeep. But he adds rooms that have been lived in require more maintenance.
He estimates it will cost around $4 million to bring the Holiday Inn back on the market.
Some people leaving Sachdev’s hotels signed a waiver saying they’ll accept $500 and will hold management harmless for claims and lawsuits. Sachdev claims those letters went out to people whose rooms have more than $3,300 in damage.
The waivers have raised the attention of state officials. The Attorney General’s Office says they are working with the Agency of Human Services to determine the next steps.
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