Roll Call: How your senator voted on imposing registration with fee for rental housing

Editor’s note: Roll Call is published by the Ethan Allen Institute.

S.210, an act related to rental housing health and safety and affordable housing, passed in the State Senate on February 10, 2022, by a vote of 20-9.

The purpose of the bill is to create a statewide registry of rental properties, a program for enlarging Vermont’s rental market and a program for increasing the homeownership rate.

First, S.210 allocates $400,000 of federal ARPA funds to pay 5 full-time housing inspectors and 2 administrators, who will begin building a registry of Vermont rental properties in 2022. From 2023 onward, the salaries of these 7 government workers would be funded by an “annual registration fee of $35 per rental unit” ($200/unit if late). Vermont’s JFO estimates these fees could raise over $1 million annually by 2024. State inspectors would be obligated to complete rental housing inspections if they receive complaints about a property. Landlords can only rent housing if it has been registered and may not rent units that fail inspection.

Second, S.210 creates a rental housing investment program and a homeownership loan fund. Under the “Vermont Rental Housing Investment Program” Vermont would “award funding to statewide or regional nonprofit housing organizations to provide competitive grants and forgivable loans to private landlords.” Landlords can receive $30,000/unit to fix-up/weatherize unrentable housing. Second, the “Vermont Homeownership Revolving Loan Fund” would award $50,000 in no-interest loans to first-time home buyers. Under both programs, individuals identifying as “Black, Indigenous, or Persons of Color” would be prioritized. Funding sources are not listed.

Analysis:  Those voting YES believe S.210 will increase the quantity, affordability and safety of Vermont’s rental housing market. A statewide registry would allow legislators to know where current rental housing is located, so they can spend federal ARPA dollars more efficiently. S.210 advocates hope a strong enforcement system will lessen safety problems with rental properties.

Those voting NO were against the rental registry portion of the bill, rather than the homeownership and investment portions. They believe increasing housing regulations will reduce Vermont’s housing supply, raise rent on properties, shrink Vermont’s economically significant tourism industry, and reduce the $15 million Vermont receives in taxes from short-term rentals. S.210 represents a rejection of a more gradual approach, of updating the current system of local safety inspections. This new system gives 80,000 landlords extra paperwork, expands state bureaucracy, and is highly intrusive. This bill is less about safety and more about Vermont taking the first step toward control of rental property.

As Recorded in the Senate Journal, Thursday, February 10, 2022: “Was read the third time and passed on a roll call, Yeas 20, Nays 9.” (Read the Journal, p. 156).

Watch Wednesday’s floor debate on Youtube (senators Clarkson, Kitchel, Brock and Sirotkin).
Watch Thursday’s proceedings on Youtube (Senator Ingalls)

Related: VT Joint Fiscal Office (JFO) Note
Governor Scott’s 2021 veto statement of S.79, the basis for S.210

HOW THEY VOTED

Becca Balint (D-Windham) – YES
Philip Baruth (D-Chittenden) – YES
Joseph Benning (R-Caledonia) – NO
Christopher Bray (D-Addison) – YES
Randy Brock (R-Franklin) – NO
Brian Campion (D-Bennington) – YES
Thomas Chittenden (D-Chittenden) – YES
Alison Clarkson (D-Windsor) – YES
Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) – NO
Ann Cummings (D-Washington) – YES
Ruth Hardy (D-Addison) – YES
Cheryl Hooker (D-Rutland) – YES
Russ Ingalls (R-Essex-Orleans) – NO
M. Jane Kitchel (D-Caledonia) – YES
Virginia Lyons (D-Chittenden) – YES
Mark MacDonald (D-Orange) – YES
Richard Mazza (D-Chittenden-Grand Isle) – NO
Richard McCormack (D-Windsor) – YES
Alice Nitka (D-Windsor District) – YES
Corey Parent (R-Franklin) – NO
Chris Pearson (P-Chittenden) – YES
Andrew Perchlik (D-Washington) – YES
Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) – YES
Kesha Ram (D-Chittenden) – YES
Richard Sears (D-Bennington) – YES
Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) – YES
Robert Starr (D-Essex-Orleans) – NO
Joshua Terenzini (R-Rutland) – NO
Richard Westman (R-Lamoille) – NO
Jeanette White (D-Windham) – YES

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/RoyalBroil
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7 thoughts on “Roll Call: How your senator voted on imposing registration with fee for rental housing

  1. Considering the abominable conditions I have seen in a quarter-century of visiting apartments in Vermont, I feel having fewer than five inspectors funded would be grossly inadequate.

  2. So no more yurt or cabin rentals – you know – off the grid housing that is not tied into the grid?
    In Vermont, this is SO FEKKED up.
    Seriously.
    We have absolutely gone off the rails with government overreach.
    Its like we’re a bunch of children, and only our gov’t agencies can decide how we adult Vermonters want to live.
    Oh wait…that would be the patriarchal fascist communist model…2022 style.
    Government IN our lives.
    Welcome to fascist tyranny and Chinarmont.

  3. Landlords will raise the rent to cover the registration fee. People of color are prioritized???? Reverse discrimination.

  4. Crisis is to politicians what blood is to vampires – and you are the victim. If a problem exists, make it worse. If one doesn’t exist, create one. Hire a slew more paperpushers to manage it, enlarge their department and send you the bill (and the confusing, largely irrelevant paperwork to fill out and submit). I suspect the basis for much of what government does is to make anything that could normally be done without government involvement sufficiently complicated that the private sector will give up doing it.

  5. A country with more and more people working for government directly or indirectly is unsustainable.They will confiscate everything you own for their own secure paycheck,healthcare,and pensions.They think the work that they do is important and real.The country is looking strikingly similar to the Soviet Union just before the collapse.This should scare the public at large more than any other potential threat.
    We need a lot less fees,licensing,permits,and taxes in order to pull ourselves out of this drowning malaise.
    That doesn’t mean allowing pollution be unchecked for air,earth,and water in the name of commerce.Bankruptcy should not prevent clawback of assets gained through LLC abuse or protection. Environmental damages done should be able to go so far as take property owned by those responsible.You will find that corporation will police themselves much better under the threat of losing it all.

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