Security Deposit Proposal

security deposits are too damn high!

T.U.B. is trying to limit the amount that landlords can charge for Security Deposits to a maximum amount of 1-months rent.

Clarification: Upon move-in, a tenant will pay the first month's rent PLUS a security deposit that does not exceed the amount of one month's rent.

Read our proposal to the Selectboard below and add your name! If you are part of a community organization that supports this, please also sign as your group!

Signatures so far:

Proposal to Adopt Reasonable Limits on Payments and Deposits Required as a Condition for the Rental, Lease, or Occupancy of a Rental Dwelling


The Tenants Union of Brattleboro (TUB) is seeking to petition the Brattleboro Selectboard to adopt an ordinance limiting the value of required security deposits. The enormous costs of securing a new place to live is an ever-rising hurdle to housing people in our town. There is no reason to require more than the first month’s rent and a “security deposit” equal to that amount before allowing a tenant to move in. The City of Burlington has already voted this basic protection into law, ordinance 18-120 Deposits. We can use the language of this ordinance to adopt this protection here in Brattleboro.


60% of Brattleboro residents are renters. As anyone who has been houseless, or has houseless friends and family, knows: all that it takes is a momentary loss of income to lose access to housing. When someone inevitably has to move out of their apartment, the often insurmountable challenge of immediately producing the equivalent of 3 or 4 months rent to secure a new residence is one of many factors that keep people chronically unsheltered.

There are a large number of factors that force (particularly low income) people to move and search for new housing. A 2014 survey found that 20% of houseless folks had experienced some kind of domestic abuse; another 20% were children. Though many of these issues are systemic and long-standing, the COVID crisis has further isolated many people in abusive situations, and the “first, last, and security” formula is one more barrier to families leaving abusers behind. These deposit costs inevitably punish the most vulnerable segments of our society.

As of 2019, Vermont’s houseless population was decreasing, but there were still severe shortages of spaces in shelters. Of course there has been a spike in unemployment this year, and almost a third of Americans are behind on their rent. With Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, federally subsidized motel vouchers, and the federal eviction moratorium coming to an end, we need to ensure that housing is accessible and affordable for the people who need it.

Access to affordable housing is one of the largest obstacles facing renters today, and though the Coronavirus pandemic has catalyzed many pre-existing issues, we need to treat these issues as long-standing and, without mitigation, persistant. Limiting the cost of required deposits is a simple, immediate, and effective step in this direction.

Proposed Ordinance

(adapted from The City of Burlington’s ordinance 18-120*)


(a) No other payments or deposits beyond the first month’s rental payment and the deposit described in this section may be required as a condition of rental, lease or occupancy of a rental unit as a dwelling.

(1) An owner may require a reasonable deposit as a condition for the rental, lease or occupancy of a rental unit as a dwelling as security against damage beyond normal wear and tear to the premises which is attributable to the tenant, against nonpayment of rent, against nonpayment of utility or other charges which the tenant was required to pay directly to the landlord or to a utility, and against expenses required to remove from the rental unit articles abandoned by the tenant. This deposit may not exceed the amount of one month’s rent for the unit rented and shall accumulate interest with an interest rate at least equivalent to a current Vermont bank passbook savings account. This deposit shall not be used by the tenant as the last month’s rent unless otherwise specified in a written lease agreement between the parties.

*The language of this ordinance has been edited slightly from the original Burlington text to reflect that it is not legal to limit how security deposits are held, 9 V.S.A. § 4461.g.