Defending My Friends and Neighbors

With March 7th – election day – drawing closer, I wanted to take a moment to speak to the defamation of my friends and neighbors that has been going on.

Here are some things that have been said over the past few months by landlords:

“No landlord would evict a good tenant”

“You say they’ve been no-cause evicted but didn’t do anything wrong? Well, I’d really like to hear the other side…”

and the most offensive: “Vote No on Article II It hurts responsible tenants”.

You see, our friends and neighbors who have experienced a no-cause eviction in the past year are reading and hearing these things said. And it fills them with shame, sadness, and anger. When someone who has been no-cause evicted passes one of those yellow signs that says “it hurts responsible tenants”, they cannot wrap their mind around the fact that they paid their rent and followed the rules and were hurt. They were responsible tenants.

Yes, people who have paid their rent and followed the rules are getting evicted without cause. Mostly, it seems, because in this market some landlords see the opportunity to drastically increase rent. Sometimes it’s because a tenant has insisted on repairs, or an exterminator. And other times, it’s because someone just annoys them. No-cause means no reason needs to be given, and there is no appeal.

Let me describe to you some of the people who have been no-cause evicted this year:

  • the person who cleans your house
  • the person who tutored your child
  • the person whose kids go to school with your kids
  • the person who did the gardening at your place of worship
  • the person who volunteered to walk your dog when you were sick
  • the person who works in your health care network
  • the person who looks forward to weekends, because their grandchild comes to visit every Saturday

Equating our friends and neighbors with “drug houses,” as some do, and smearing them as “probably deserved it” adds insult to injury. It’s a cheap shot at those who know they don’t fall into those categories but feel the weight of the implied accusation.

To be clear: Article II, also known as Just Cause Eviction, is created to protect tenants who pay their rent and follow the rules. If there is a “just cause” to evict (also known as “for cause”), those things are covered by lease agreements and tenancy statutes in state law. In this proposed ordinance, we’re not talking about just-cause/for-cause evictions – nothing about those reasons to evict changes.

Imagine an apartment building full of tenants who notice their landlord has put a yellow “Vote no, it hurts responsible tenants” sign in front of the apartment building they live in. The tenants talk to each other and are upset about it, because they disagree with both ideas on the sign. They’d like to put up signs of their own in their windows, or write a letter to the editor, or post on social media that they are in support of Article II.

But they don’t feel safe doing any of that, because they figure if they do they’ll be no-caused pretty shortly thereafter and the chances of finding a new apartment are slim.

Maybe someone who has been no-cause evicted but found new housing after months of searching and applying, going through fear and uncertainty and the upheaval of their life would like to speak out and tell their story – tell you who they are are why they support Just Cause Eviction.

But if they do, they’re worried they’ll eventually lose the place they’re in now, and might think “if I come forward, I’ll never be able to rent in this town again.”

Just Cause Eviction – Article II – is sorely needed for our renters. Responsible tenants need protection. JCE protects tenants who pay their rent and follow the rules from arbitrary and retaliatory eviction. Please vote yes on March 7th.

Comments | 1

  • Article II text.... FYI

    Shall the Charter of the Town of Brattleboro be amended to provide protections for residential tenants from evictions
    without ‘just cause’, by adopting and adding a new section to read as follows:

    (A) Residential tenants, as defined in Chapter 137 of Title 9 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated, shall be protected
    from eviction without ‘just cause,’ where just cause shall include:
    (1) a tenant’s material breach of a written rental agreement,
    (2) a tenant’s violation of state statutes regulating tenant obligations in residential rental agreements,
    (3) non-payment of rent, and
    (4) a tenant’s failure to accept written, reasonable, good faith renewal terms.

    (B) This charter provision excludes from ‘just cause’ the expiration of a rental agreement as sole grounds for
    termination of tenancy.

    (C) Exemptions to this charter amendment, include properties defined in Chapter 137 of Title 9, in addition to;
    1. sublets
    2. in-unit rentals
    3. owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes
    4. Accessory Dwelling Units on owner’s property

    (D) A landlord shall not evict a tenant for the sole purpose of raising the rent. When rent increases are legitimate, the
    total rent increase, including consideration of operating expenses, maintenance expenses, capital improvements,
    and cost-of-living (CPI) adjustments shall not exceed 12% in any twelve-month period.

    (E) The terms of this amendment shall not be binding on a landlord in cases where the tenant is effectively evicted by
    extreme weather or acts of God. Otherwise a landlord may evict a tenant for purposes such as major required
    construction, lead remediation and abatement work, or housing a family members). However, the following
    restrictions apply to such evictions:

    (1) If a comparable unit owned by the landlord is already available, or if such a unit becomes available before
    recovery of the rental unit, the landlord shall rescind the notice of eviction and dismiss any action filed to recover
    possession of the unit and offer the comparable unit to the tenant at the rate currently paid by the tenant
    (2) If a non-comparable unit becomes available before recovery, the landlord shall offer the non-comparable unit to
    the tenant.
    (3) If a landlord cannot accommodate the tenant, the landlord must pay one month’s rent as hardship and relocation
    |(4) The rental unit must be offered first to the displaced tenant when the required repairs, abatement, construction or
    other work is complete, or when a family member moves out before a term of 36 months.

    (F) The landlord seeking to recover possession of a unit must submit with the notice of eviction a notarized affidavit
    attesting to the need for the eviction, and when appropriate, the identity of the family members), and the intent of the family member(s) to have no other principal residence.

    Evidence that the landlord has not acted in good faith may include, but is not limited to, any of the following:
    (1) The landlord or family members) for whom the rental unit was vacated did not move into the unit within three
    months of the recovery date and subsequently did not occupy the unit as a principal residence for a minimum of 36
    consecutive months.
    (2) The landlord rented the unit to a new tenant at an increased price exceedingly the yearly rental increase as
    allowed in section C of this Charter Amendment

    (G) This legislation shall take effect upon approval.

    (H) If any provision of this legislation is held to be unconstitutional or to be otherwise invalid by any court of
    competent jurisdiction, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions, and they are held to be severable

    (1) This legislation can be rescinded in a plebiscite according to law without approval of the state legislature.


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