in the State House of Representatives
on April 22, 2022, by a vote of
Purpose: S.210 (as amended by the House) would create a statewide registry of rental properties, a program for enlarging Vermont’s rental market and a program for increasing the homeownership rate.
This exempts rental housing of up to four properties, so long as the owner uses one of them as their primary residence. Seasonal camps and rental units rented out for fewer than 90 days a year are also exempt.
The original Senate-approved measures are left intact, aside from the removal of the Vermont Homeownership Revolving Loan Fund.
First, allocating $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 confiscate over $1.2 million annually from housing owners by 2025. 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, funded initially with $20 million of federal ARPA money. Under the “Vermont Rental Housing Improvement 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 $50,000/unit to fix-up/weatherize unrentable housing (up from $30,000/unit in the Senate bill).
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 state control of rental property.
As Recorded in the House Journal, on Friday, April 22, 2022: "Shall the House propose to the Senate to amend the bill as recommended by the Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs, as amended, in the first division, which is Sections 1 through 7; the appropriations in Section 11, subdivisions (b)(1) and (2); and their related effective dates in Section 12?, was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 88. Nays, 54" (Read the Journal, p. 1189 -1204).
Related: VT Joint Fiscal Office's (JFO) Note for S.210, as amended by House.
Roll Call! Senate $20 million in one-time money for the Vermont Housing Improvement ProgramImposes Registration with Fee for Rental Housing (20-9), 2022
S.210 summary of changes from amendment
Governor Scott’s 2021 veto statement of S.79, the basis for S.210
Sally Achey (R - Middletown Springs) – NO
Paul Lefebvre (R – Newark) – NO