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Attorney General Announces New State Rental Housing Website And Washington County Lead Law Settlements
CONTACT: Robert F. McDougall, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5506
August 23, 2011
Landlords, tenants and municipalities now have a place to find Vermont’s law on the legal health and safety requirements of rental housing: www.rentalcodes.org. The website features checklists of the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, including links to relevant codes and contacts. The website was developed by the Attorney General’s Office working in conjunction with the Vermont Housing Finance Agency and other state agencies and stakeholders as a part of a safe rental housing study committee.
“We know from enforcing Vermont’s lead laws that landlords often have difficulty locating the various laws they need to comply with,” said Attorney General William H. Sorrell. “While ignorance of the law is no excuse, we understood the difficulty and worked on www.rentalcodes.org to make it easier to know the law. We hope the website will help everyone involved in rental housing in Vermont understand exactly what is required of them, as well as what rights they have in the rental process.”
The website provides a central location for rental housing rules, regulations, and guidelines, with viewers able to access information based on who they are or an area of interest.
For more information on the new website, go to www.rentalcodes.org and click on the links for "About Us" and "About This Site."
Attorney General Sorrell also announced today that his office has settled claims against a pair of central Vermont landlords for violations of the state’s lead law. Landlords Mary Fernandez of Northfield and Jane Osgatharp of Montpelier have each entered into settlements with the Attorney General with the combined civil penalties and lead hazard reduction work totaling $16,500. Actions were brought against both landlords for failure to bring rented properties into compliance with Vermont’s lead in housing law, which requires Essential Maintenance Practices ("EMPs") to be performed every year on all rental properties built before 1978.
"Lead poisoning is a serious issue in Vermont, and we take compliance with the lead law just as seriously," said Attorney General Sorrell. "While we try to work with landlords as much as possible, we have a duty to protect tenants from unnecessary exposure to lead paint, especially children."
In addition to completing the required EMPs, both landlords have agreed to perform substantial lead hazard reduction work to further decrease the likelihood of lead exposure for their tenants. Fernandez will put $5,000 into improvements on five Northfield properties and Osgatharp will put $7,000 into improvements on five properties in Montpelier and Waterbury.
Prior to legal action, both landlords were sent letters of notification regarding the violations and requesting that all rental properties be brought into compliance within 90 days. The letters are part of an ongoing campaign by the Attorney General's Office to target lead paint violations in rental housing across the state. For more information on Vermont's lead law, or for copies of the court documents in these and other lead enforcement actions, see the Attorney General's website at http://www.atg.state.vt.us and click on the "Lead in Housing" link.
Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.