Andrus v. Dunbar – Case Brief Summary (Vermont)

In Andrus v. Dunbar (2005) 178 Vt. 554 878 A.2d 245, the landlord sent a notice to the tenant on May 1, 2003, which stated that the landlord was terminating the tenancy as of May 31 and suggested that the tenant contact the landlord to "work out a payment plan before this action has to be taken." (Andrus, at p. 554.)

The applicable statute required 14 days' notice. (Andrus, at p. 555.) On June 12, the landlord sent another notice to the tenant stating that the tenancy was being terminated for nonpayment of rent as of July 5 and informing the tenant that he could prevent the termination of the tenancy by paying all rent due before that date. However, on June 17, the landlord filed an eviction action. (Andrus, at p. 554.)

The tenant moved to dismiss the action on the ground that neither of the notices was valid. The trial court denied his motion. (Andrus, at p. 555.)

The Vermont Supreme Court reversed. It concluded that, because the landlord's June 12 notice " 'unequivocally recognized the tenancy as existing,' " the tenancy had not been terminated when the eviction action was initiated so the motion to dismiss should have been granted.

The court asserted that there was "confusion about landlord's intent," and the tenant was left to speculate about the meaning of the landlord's actions. (Andrus, at pp. 556-557.)