- Kim Scafuro
The bill, H.708, would have prevented Burlington landlords from kicking out renters by not renewing their leases, a common practice allowed under state law. Landlords would have needed to instead provide a “just cause,” such as failure to pay rent.
Supporters said the measure would better protect renters, particularly at a time when vacancy rates are at all-time lows. Burlington voters passed the proposed charter change by a wide margin last year.
But Scott said he believes that the bill would prove harmful to both property owners and renters.
“By making it exceedingly difficult to remove tenants from a rental unit, even at the end of a signed lease, my fear is this bill will discourage property owners from renting to vulnerable prospective tenants, or to rent their units at all,” he wrote in a veto letter to lawmakers.
“This will increase both costs and inequity in the housing market,” he wrote.
“[Scott] is upholding a grossly unequal system, with BIPOC and low-income Vermonters being the most affected,” Tom Proctor, campaign director for Rights & Democracy's Just Cause Coalition, said in a statement.
The Burlington City Council’s Progressive Caucus also expressed disappointment with Scott’s decision, calling the charter change one of the “most promising housing reforms” in recent years. They urged voters to contact Democratic leaders in the legislature and call for an override vote.
“Democrats need to stand with Vermonters who are facing the worst housing crisis in recent memory,” Councilor Gene Bergman (P-Ward 2) said in a statement.
It's unclear whether lawmakers will have enough votes. The Senate passed the measure by a voice vote, meaning no tally was taken, while the 150-member House approved it with 98 votes — two shy of the two-thirds majority needed to override.