COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in

This page has local legal information on residential (not commercial) renters’ issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not legal advice, and you should check with your local legal aid and courts for current information. Your local city or county may have additional protections for renters.

This page was last updated on July 7, 2020. It was reviewed by our volunteer attorney experts.

Its information is taken from these sources:Princeton Eviction Lab's COVID Policy ScorecardsColumbia Law School COVID-19 Eviction Moratoria analysisEnergy and Policy Institute Utility Disconnect TrackerVermont Supreme Court orderVermont court updatesVermont general assembly billVermont utility updatesVermont Law Help COVID-19 updatesVermont Law S.333

COVID-19 Legal FAQs for Renters in Vermont
Are there any special protections for Vermont renters during the emergency? How long do they last?

Vermont has paused all evictions until the governor declares an end to the state of emergency (currently set to end on July 15, 2020). Some evictions, based on nonpayment of rent or for 'no-cause' reasons, may be paused for 30 days after that.

Check this page for further updates.

What do the protections mean for Vermont renters?

The protections mean that through the end of Vermont's state of emergency:

  1. If you get a summons and complaint for eviction, all old and new cases are “stayed” (paused). But it is a good idea to write an answer anyway if you receive a summons and complaint. You don’t want to take the chance that the court will give your landlord a judgment by default because you didn’t send an answer. Answer even if you are past the 21-day answer deadline. You can use this answer form.
  2. All non-payment and no-cause eviction cases are paused until 30 days after the governor lifts the State of Emergency by declaration.
  3. If the complaint says you broke the lease or violated a rule, the court could schedule the case as soon as the governor lifts the State of Emergency by declaration, or after July 15, whichever is later.
  4. Writs of Possession are “stayed” (paused). After the governor declares the State of Emergency over, the writ must be served on you again to be valid.
  5. If you get a Writ of Possession, ask for legal help.

If you have any questions about your situation as a renter, ask for legal help to figure out your rights.

Do I still have to pay rent during the emergency in Vermont?

Yes, Vermont renters still need to pay rent during the emergency.

Also, if you have been ordered to pay rent into court, you need to keep making those payments. Also check with your local city or county government to see if they give renters any additional protections if they are struggling to pay rent during the emergency.

If you cannot pay rent, take steps to protect yourself:

  • Communicate with your landlord: Send a written letter or email to your landlord as soon as possible. Explain why you cannot pay the rent because of COVID-19 impact. You can also try to negotiate with your landlord to make a payment plan or get a temporary rent reduction. Get help here for drafting and mailing a letter to your landlord. You can also use this letter-writing tool here. Also reach out to legal help.
  • Get written records of all communication: Keep copies of any letter or email you send, and any responses from the landlord. Keep receipts for any payments you make. If you make a payment plan or rent agreement, make sure to get it in writing.
  • Keep proof of COVID-19's impact on you: Collect documents about your COVID-19-related employment problems, health care issues, or other issues that affect your ability to pay rent. This includes letters from your employer, doctor, insurance provider, child care provider, schools, etc.
  • Check for help: If you need financial assistance for housing costs, you may be able to get help.
Can my landlord evict me during the emergency in Vermont?

You may still be evicted now in Vemont, but only for certain emergency situations. Those include criminal activity, illegal drug activity, acts of violence, or other circumstances that seriously threaten other residents.

Once the emergency period ends, landlords can begin to enforce evictions against renters once again.

You may also have U.S. national protections against eviction that last through July 2020. Check below to see if you are eligible for them.

If you receive a Writ of Possession, or an eviction lawsuit, get legal help right away.

Can my utilities be shut off during the emergency in Vermont?

The Vermont Public Utility Commission has issued an order preventing shutoffs until July 31, 2020. This may be extended further. Check for updates. You will need to pay your balance in the future.

Renters should still pay their utility bills if they can. If you need financial assistance for utility costs, you may be able to get help.

Landlords are never allowed to shut off a renter's utilities in an attempt to force the renter out. This is illegal. Reach out to a lawyer for help if this happens to you.

Are you eligible for U.S. national protections against eviction?

Renters in 3 categories have special national protections against being evicted during the Emergency Period of March 27, 2020 to July 24 or 25, 2020. These national protections add onto any state and local protections you have.

Do you fit in any of these 3 categories?

Your home’s owner has a federally backed mortgage loan or other guarantee (like through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae). Search if your home is covered.
You pay rent through a federal assistance program like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher, Rural Development Voucher, or other 'covered housing' program.
You live in Public Housing, where the government is your landlord.

If you are a renter in one of these 3 categories, the federal CARES Act section 4024 gives you these protections. (Remember, these protections add onto any state and local protections you have)

  • Your landlord cannot file a new eviction lawsuit against you for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period. They can still evict you for other behavior, like drug abuse, other criminal activities, or other lease violations.
  • Your landlord cannot charge you new fees or penalties for not paying your rent during the Emergency Period.
  • After the Emergency Period ends, your landlord may not be able to evict you immediately.(Different states interpret the protections ending on July 24 or 25. Check with local lawyers to see about your state). If you have not paid your rent in full during the Emergency Period, your landlord must wait until the period ends before giving you a notice to vacate. For example, they may give you a notice on July 26, and you must be allowed until at least August 25 to leave the property.

For more help on these national protections, reach out for legal and financial help here. Also, use this tool to write a letter to your landlord if you are having issues with rent or eviction.

What if I need repairs?

Can I break my lease?

What do I do if my landlord tries to evict me in Vermont?

Are eviction cases still proceeding through court in Vermont?

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