MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a bill Thursday that ensures tenants have access to water even if their landlord doesn’t pay the water bill.
The new law requires municipalities to let tenants pay for continued water service and deduct it from their rent without risk of eviction.
It would also allow municipalities to request payment for one past due billing cycle, but tenants may also deduct those payments from their rent.
The law takes effect immediately.
‘‘This law balances the rights of tenants and municipalities,’’ said Sen. Anthony Pollina, a Democrat and Progressive from Washington County. ‘‘It means that if a shut-off occurs because of a delinquent landlord, the tenants have a simple way to maintain the water service and the town gets paid.’’
The new law was prompted in part after a Barre woman had her water shut off after her landlord failed to pay the building’s water bills. Vermont Legal Aid represented the woman in a class action lawsuit against the city of Barre for its water shut-off practices.
A Vermont federal court found the woman endured a number of hardships when she was without water.