Scott threatens to veto housing bills if they contain contractor or rental registries

Gov. Phil Scott speaks during a press conference at the Statehouse in Montpelier on Jan. 3. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Gov. Phil Scott threatened to veto housing bills if they include a registry of contractors or a registry of rental housing.

“I don’t like the contractor registry,” Scott said Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “I think it’s harmful to contractors and for the overall supply of homes.”

Scott said he felt the same way about the registry of rental properties. 

Scott called the potential registries “poison pills” and pointed out he has vetoed both in the past. He accused legislators of playing “political games” by including them in bills that fund housing. 

The House has postponed consideration of the contractor registry until next month.

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved $50 million for mixed-income housing, manufactured homes, and improved housing for farmworkers and refugees but did not fund $10 million for new middle-income housing that the governor wanted. 

Senators attached $20 million to help landlords rehabilitate properties that are vacant or below code to another housing bill that would require rental properties to be registered. 

Senators also advanced another bill that would provide millions of dollars in housing and loosen regulations that prevent more housing from being built. 

The Senate also passed a bill that includes a registry for rental properties. Landlords would have to register every unit they rent, with a fee of $35 per unit, but the registration requirement would not apply to units rented for less than 90 days per year, summer camps, most mobile homes or units that are part of government housing programs.

The bill would assign the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety to design a complaint-driven system to conduct inspections of rental housing. It would require a written inspection report, outlining what needs to be fixed and ban the landlord from renting the unit to a new tenant until violations are corrected.