- Kim Scafuro
The House voted 99-51 to override Scott's rejection of H.708, which would have prevented landlords from removing tenants by not renewing a lease, a de facto eviction allowed under state law. Landlords would have needed to instead provide a "just cause," such as nonpayment of rent. With all 150 members present, the body needed a two-thirds majority, or 100 votes, to advance the legislation.
The failure was lambasted by Burlington City Council Progressives, who had successfully shepherded the charter change onto the ballot in 2021. City voters passed the measure by a wide margin.
City Councilor Gene Bergman (P-Ward 2) said Scott and lawmakers now have an obligation to help tenants who are struggling to find housing and who face removal by landlords "who use Vermont’s no cause eviction loophole to open up housing to maximize their returns."
"[Lawmakers'] rejection makes a mockery of local control, of the idea that our cities and towns can be and are 'laboratories of democracy,' and that they care about people who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads," Bergman said in a statement. "They have failed us."
In a letter to lawmakers, the governor said the bill would make it too difficult to remove problematic tenants and could encourage landlords to rent only to people with high credit scores and solid references, leaving vulnerable renters — such as refugees or low-income people — without housing.
Advocates pushed back on that logic, arguing that those people already lose out in Vermont's rental market.
Mayor Miro Weinberger, who attended Scott's weekly press briefing Tuesday to discuss housing issues, called the vote "a disappointing outcome to many people fighting for renters' protections in Burlington." But he said the city already has strong, pro-renter regulations that it will continue to enforce.
On Tuesday, the mayor said he'll continue pushing for policies to boost the city's housing stock, which will increase vacancy rates and drive down rents. Weinberger's 10-point housing plan released late last year calls for building 1,250 more housing units by 2027.
Last month, Scott did sign a different Burlington charter change, which will allow the city to charge carbon taxes on owners of properties heated with fossil fuels.