Evictions and the Pandemic in Vermont: Updates and Time Frames
Vermont’s eviction moratorium was a keystone measure in protecting renters during the pandemic. Now that the pandemic is subsiding, things are changing. VAHC continues to advocate for strong protections for tenants to help them stay in their housing and access federal rental assistance, and strives to share accurate information to help Vermonters know their rights. Read on for the most recent information:
The Governor signed the law authorizing the moratorium, S. 333, on May 14, 2020. Under S. 333, landlords could still file evictions, but all evictions were “stayed” or prevented from moving through the courts, and sheriffs could not serve an eviction notice to a tenant. S. 333 tied the timing of the moratorium to the Governor’s state of emergency.
The Governor of Vermont let the state of emergency expire on June 15, 2021. But this does not mean that you can be removed from your rental unit right away. You cannot be evicted from your home without a court process.
Vermont Legal Aid has provided the following information about how the end of the state of emergency in Vermont impacts different types of evictions. This information is current as of July 2, 2021.
Check this resource page at vtlawhelp.org for the most updated information. If you scroll down, you can also find a drop-down menu that explains steps and resources for tenants at different stages in terminations or eviction cases.
If you need legal help, please contact Vermont Legal Aid (1-800-889-2047).
If you need help paying rent, apply for the Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) (call 833-488-3727).
A Writ of Possession that has been issued by the court can now be served on you by a sheriff. Then the sheriff can come back after the number of the days on the Writ and escort you out of your rental. (This is called the execution of a Writ.)
You may be able to ask the court to quash (stop) the Writ if:
you are eligible for the CDC moratorium (see below for the steps to take), which expires on July 31, or
you explain other reasons that would make it unfair to be evicted now, and the court agrees.
An eviction case can move forward if the reason is that you violated the lease or the RRAA. The landlord can have the sheriff serve you with a Summons and Complaint.
You need to file an Answer within 21 days of the date you get the papers from the sheriff. Contact Vermont Legal Aid for help answering.
You can now be served by a sheriff with a Summons and Complaint for eviction from your landlord.
You might get a Notice of Status Conference in the mail for a date after July 15. This might happen if there was a Summons and Complaint from a long time ago. The sheriff can now serve you with that Summons and Complaint.
If you are served with a Summons and Complaint, you need to file an Answer within 21 days. Contact Vermont Legal Aid for help answering. In your message, be sure to say you got a Summons and Complaint.
Until August 29, if the landlord files a motion for you to pay rent-into-court because you owe rent, the court can consider whether you have filed for VERAP rent assistance. VERAP may help you pay off the rent, pay for future rent, pay for past-due utilities, and more. (August 29 is 45 days after the end of the moratorium.)
The national CDC moratorium goes through JULY 31:
The CDC moratorium may be able to protect you through the end of July. But you have to make a declaration and give it to your landlord. If you do:
The landlord will not be able to send a sheriff to serve you with a Writ of Possession until after July 31, 2021.
If you get a Writ, you can ask the court to quash (stop) it.
Before making a sheriff bring you a Writ of Possession, a landlord is required to send you a letter about your rights under the CDC moratorium. If they do not, you can sue your landlord for a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Ask Vermont Legal Aid for advice.
The CARES Act moratorium
It applies to landlords who have a federally backed mortgage with a “forbearance” (which means their mortgage payments are postponed). During the period when the landlord is receiving forbearance, the landlord cannot:
start an eviction solely for non-payment of rent or other fees or charges
charge any late fees or penalties for late payments of rent, or
give a 30-day notice to vacate for any reason
Federally backed mortgages are those financed or guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, USDA Rural Housing Service (USDA), RHD, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veteran’s Administration (VA).
Vermont courts are beginning to schedule eviction hearings in July. Vermont Legal Aid can give you advice and refer you to some financial help to try to keep you in your rental unit.
Again, if you are a tenant facing possible eviction, do not wait for a court date or a Writ of Possession. Contact Vermont Legal Aid now to see if they can help you avoid eviction.
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