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Vt. landlords defend state's high rents

(Category: Affordability. Added/edited: Apr 29, 2010.)

By Bruce Edwards

Source: Times Argus, April 29, 2010

"The head of a statewide group said landlords aren't to blame for making Vermont one of the least affordable states to rent an apartment.

"Landlords and builders want their costs as low as possible," said Stuart Bennett, director of the Vermont Apartment Owners Association. "Costs associated with labor, materials, debt service, taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs, maintenance, impact and permit fees, code compliance (including lead removal) and uncollectible back rent, make housing increasingly expensive to create and maintain."

Bennett responded in an e-mail to a report last week from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.

The report found that Vermont is the 15th least affordable state for apartment renters. To afford a modest two-bedroom apartment and utilities, a worker needs to earn $17.70 per hour, or $36,812 a year. The national wage is $18.44 an hour.

The wage is based on a statewide average "fair market rent" of $920 a month. Excluding the greater Burlington-South Burlington metro area, the average fair market rent for the rest of the state is $821 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.

James Theodore, who owns 88 apartments in the Rutland area, said the poor economy has exacerbated rental problems for both landlords, tenants and those looking to rent..."

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