Senate approves landlord-funded rental unit registry, overrides governor’s vetoes on noncitizen voting

Wikimedia Commons/Magicpiano

GOVERNMENT REGULATED HOUSING: Lawmakers passed a bill on Thursday that would create a statewide registry for tracking the safety status of rental units across the state.

The Vermont Senate approved a bill Thursday during the veto session that would create a new bureaucracy funded by landlords to track and regulate the safety standards for rental units statewide. The upper chamber also voted to override Gov. Phil Scott’s vetoes of noncitizen voting in Winooski and Montpelier.

The bill, S.79, takes what would otherwise be the role of municipal town health safety officers — inspecting rental units — and transfers such duties to the state.

Sen. Randy Brock, R-Franklin, had proposed an amendment to take the registry component out of the bill but it failed. The amendment stirred debate on whether the state or local municipalities are best suited for enforcing rental property standards.

“We have historically had a system that was locally controlled in those municipalities that have inspection systems,” Brock said during the morning session. ” … The registry, I believe, is heavy-handed, and I believe that it goes farther than what we need to do in a complaint-driven system. And [the amendment] simply says that the health officers that are charged with this responsibility with the municipalities simply have to do what they’ve been charged with doing.”

He continued that under the status quo, if the municipality can’t keep up with the work, then the state can step in.

“The municipality has to deal with it, and if they don’t, then the complaint can be passed by the complainant to the state. The state will then check with the municipality to ensure that the town health officer does address the complaint, and if he or she does not then the state will and the bill for that will be sent to the municipality,” Brock said.

Senate Majority Leader Alison Clarkson, D-Windsor, was among those to speak in favor of pushing this work to the state.

“This amendment keeps rental housing inspections with the town health officers leaving the responsibility, liability and costs with the towns, an unfunded mandate,” she said. “The legislature has sent already two working groups over the last decade to do studies on this issue, and the conclusion that each one has reached was that the system of volunteer town health officers doesn’t work effectively.”

According to ipropertymanagement.com, Vermont laws as they exist today require that landlords get one month after notice to take care of repairs.

“In Vermont, landlords are legally required to provide a habitable dwelling and must make requested repairs within 30 days of the request,” it states. “If they do not, then Vermont tenants have the right to make the repairs themselves and deduct the cost from future rental payments or withhold rent entirely.”

The same report states, “Landlords also have certain rights, such as the right to collect rent in a timely manner and the right to deduct for costs associated with damages that exceed normal wear and tear.”

The bill also includes funding to help restore deteriorating rental properties.

“This is a new revolving loan program that will allow subsidies, no-interest loans to be forgiven to the home buyers in an effort to have those home sales go through,” Sen. Michael Sirotkin, D-Chittenden, said.

This will go next to the governor’s desk.

The Senate also approved H.157, a registration of contractors in the construction business that requires contractors follow “standards on construction projects and components of energy-efficient ‘green’ building for insulators, carpenters, and heating and ventilation installers.” The bill includes anti-fraud measures. This bill also is headed to the governor’s desk.

The Senate voted to override the vetoes of H.227 and H.177, which allow noncitizens to vote in local elections for the cities of Winooski and Montpelier. Those bills are now law, as both chambers voted to override the governor’s vetoes.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Magicpiano
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8 thoughts on “Senate approves landlord-funded rental unit registry, overrides governor’s vetoes on noncitizen voting

  1. All hail the powerful and rich!
    Down with the poor, downtrodden and useless eaters!
    Hail to the fox in charge of the henhouse!

  2. As a landlord I will gladly absorb these additional costs to insure the integrity of my single unit … NOT!

  3. This works in favor of the greedy landlords;

    And bashes the hell out of the caring landlord trying to keep rents somewhat reasonable when taxes and regulation already cost thousands a year per unit.

    The Tenant looses, the apartment owner looses, and the NANNY state have gained another burgeoning
    bureaucratic empire. Do you suppose 10 or 20 or 30 employees can superivise How many hundred
    thousand rental units. And they want to include EACH overnight bedroom as Rental Units!!

  4. Second home owners should have the right to then too! Where was the VTGOP on this one? It’s like we want to lose.

    Here is a site where conservative voices can actually see the light of day. Why are not a group of elected conservatives letting those across the state know, hey this is crazy town. We vote no!

    Communication would be wonderful. We’d know you are at least working for us and trying to defend the constitution. Instead we get Benning and Beck blathering some inane nonsense.

  5. This is what happens when you allow liberals to become the majority. Vermont as you knew it are a thing of the past now, and it will never be the great state that it was before they moved in.

  6. So when do we start removing Senators for violating there oath of office? The Vermont constitution clearly states that you must be a legal citizen to vote. Why should any of us obey any laws that they( the legislators), do not uphold the constitution. Where is the Attorney General ? Why is TJ Donovan not immediately taking these voting laws to court to stop the law, or should he be removed as well,for his failure to uphold the Vermont constitution.

    • Because in Vermont the 2 constitutions are things the progressives can pick and choose what to follow. The state is permanently broken.
      There will be fewer affordable units available so the taxpayers will again bear the burden of affordable units being built.
      The sad thing is this is the kind of irresponsible, shortsighted leadership that the majority wants.

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