The Vermont Rental Property Owners Association
VRPOA was incorporated on December 27,1994. It was formed by a group of concerned rental property owners from Rutland, Vermont. An exploratory meeting was held on November 10,1994 at The Franklin Center at which it was determined that there was sufficient interest and need for a landlord organization. Thus a general meeting was held on December 1,1994. Over sixty people attended. Dues were set at fifty dollars per year and a board of directors was voted in. Those first seven board members were: Frank Sparrow, Ronald J Senecal, Patrick M Riordan, Lawrence A Schiller, Richard W Surrell, Thaddeus R Lorentz, and Joseph A Giancola.
During our first year we grew from eighteen members to nearly 170. The initial year’s efforts were concentrated on building up the membership. Many benefits were established. We instituted monthly meetings, as we were able to secure the lower dining room of the Rutland, Vermont Moose Club on Center Street for the first Thursday of each month. A monthly newsletter was established. Several of our members went to Montpelier to testify in favor of S-49, which was a bill that streamlined the eviction process. Too many unfavorable amendments were inserted into S-49, so we decided to kill the bill.
Our second year saw us grow even more. We established a working relationship with Apartment Owners of Vermont (now known as Vermont Apartment Owners). The tenant database was started up. Tim Crossman interviewed Ronald Senecal, Patrick Riordan and Larry Schiller for an article in The Rutland Shopper about the tenant database. Because of the lead paint law requirements we were able to sponsor EMP (Essential Maintenance Practices) courses that were mandated by state law.
In our third year, we were able to go on line with Credit Bureau Services of Vermont. This linkage enables our members to access credit reports for potential tenants. Our free legal services program was launched and on June 16,1997 we welcomed the 400th member of VRPOA. We continued to plug away at the eviction bill (now H-522), but we were unable to pass it into law.
Year four started off with Vermont’s Attorney General as our guest speaker at the February general meeting. Everyone was impressed that a group as new as ours was powerful enough to garner a speaker as prolific as the attorney general. Several members went to the state capitol in April to testify on H-522. However, as with S-49, the plug was pulled on this bill because it was believed that just cause would have been added when the bill was on the floor, thus giving us no chance to testify on it. During the summer VRPOA held its first picnic. We were able to expand our tenant database with the names of all tenants who have had an eviction lawsuit filed against them in Rutland Superior Court. This data was from January 1991 to the present time. We also found it necessary to have a separate fax line installed. In November, a member set up a web page for us.
Early in year five Beth Richards released a survey. She conducted this analysis from our member’s responses to her questionnaire regarding their eviction experiences. It showed that the eviction process, which heavily favors tenants, was pummeling the landlord, regardless of the number of units owned. We got off to a good start in the Vermont House of Representatives thanks to state representatives Karen J Moore (Rutland City 6-3) and Diane M Carmolli (Rutland City 6-4). Both Karen and Diane worked very hard to come up with ninety-nine co-sponsors on the eviction bill (H-343). We had more members than usual testify about this measure and the house passed the bill 116 – 16 – 17 on May 15,1999. H-343 was then sent to the Senate for review. VRPOA also added another benefit for its members: an apartment referral service. Several of our forms were updated and sent out to our members in a fall mailing. On September 3,1999 VRPOA signed up its 500th member. The membership committee set a goal of 500 members within five years back when the organization was first started. Also in September, VRPOA participated in a statewide assessment of the rental property situation in Vermont
The sixth year saw us back at work on H-343, which was now in the Senate General & Military Affairs Committee. Several members testified over the course of two weeks and on April 26, 2000, the Senate passed the bill 23-7 with some changes. The differences with worked out in a conference committee and on May 11,2000 both houses passed the amended bill. On May 18,2000 Governor Howard Dean signed it into law. It became effective on July 1,2000. While this was not passed the way that we wanted it, there were significant benefits to all landlords. At our September general meeting Thaddeus R Lorentz was our guest speaker and he described the bill in detail to our members. One of the provisions of H-343 was the establishment of a statewide apartment database. Patrick M Riordan and Gerald J Garrow Sr have been meeting with a committee consisting of representatives from Labor & Industry, the Department of Health, Vermont Tenants, Vermont Department of Housing & Community Development, and several other parties to produce a report that the Commissioner of Labor & Industry can submit to the legislature. The report will list the task force’s recommendations for establishing the registry.
Year seven saw the completion of a pro se eviction manual. Attorney Thaddeus R Lorentz did an outstanding job in simplifying a complex process. The association also began to recruit outside the Rutland area. To date over 4400 brochures have been sent out from the database of town grand lists that were provided to us.
The association was successful in its efforts to expand beyond the Rutland area. Substantial portions of our new members are from outside Rutland County.
To organize and work for the purpose of advancing the needs and concerns of rental property owners.
VRPOA successful in its efforts to expand beyond the Rutland area. Substantial portions of our new members are from outside Rutland County.
To be a fair and reasonable advocate voice for rental property owners in Vermont.