The proposed addition to the Brattleboro town charter

BRATTLEBORO — Following is the text of the proposed addition to the town charter:

A. Residential tenants, as defined in Chapter 137 of Title 9 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated, shall be protected from eviction without ‘just cause,’ where just cause shall include:

1. a tenant’s material breach of a written rental agreement,

2. a tenant’s violation of state statutes regulating tenant obligations in residential rental agreements,

3. non-payment of rent, and

4. a tenant’s failure to accept written, reasonable, good faith renewal terms.

B. This charter provision excludes from “just cause” the expiration of a rental agreement as sole grounds for termination of tenancy.

C. Exemptions to this charter amendment, include properties defined in Chapter 137 of Title 9 [the state laws that apply to residential rental agreements], in addition to:

1. sublets

2. in-unit rentals

3. owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes

4. Accessory Dwelling Units on owner’s property

D. A landlord shall not evict a tenant for the sole purpose of raising the rent. When rent increases are legitimate, the total rent increase, including consideration of operating expenses, maintenance expenses, capital improvements, and cost-of-living (CPI) adjustments shall not exceed 12% in any twelve-month period.

E. The terms of this amendment shall not be binding on a landlord in cases where the tenant is effectively evicted by extreme weather or acts of God. Otherwise, a landlord may evict a tenant for purposes such as major required construction, lead remediation and abatement work, or housing a family member(s). However, the following restrictions apply to such evictions:

1. If a comparable unit owned by the landlord is already available, or if such a unit becomes available before recovery of the rental unit, the landlord shall rescind the notice of eviction and dismiss any action filed to recover possession of the unit and offer the comparable unit to the tenant at the rate currently paid by the tenant

2. If a non-comparable unit becomes available before recovery, the landlord shall offer the non-comparable unit to the tenant.

3. If a landlord cannot accommodate the tenant, the landlord must pay one month’s rent as hardship and relocation assistance

4. The rental unit must be offered first to the displaced tenant when the required repairs, abatement, construction or other work is complete, or when a family member moves out before a term of 36 months.

F. The landlord seeking to recover possession of a unit must submit with the notice of eviction a notarized affidavit attesting to the need for the eviction, and when appropriate, the identity of the family member(s), and the intent of the family member(s) to have no other principal residence.

Evidence that the landlord has not acted in good faith may include, but is not limited to, any of the following:

1. The landlord or family member(s) for whom the rental unit was vacated did not move into the unit within three months of the recovery date and subsequently did not occupy the unit as a principal residence for a minimum of 36 consecutive months.

2. The landlord rented the unit to a new tenant at an increased price exceeding the yearly rental increase as allowed in section C of this Charter Amendment.

G. This legislation shall take effect upon approval.

H. If any provision of this legislation is held to be unconstitutional or to be otherwise invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions, and they are held to be severable

I. This legislation can be rescinded in a plebiscite according to law without approval of the state legislature.

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