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Vermont Advocates Ask for Statewide Pause on Evictions During COVID-19 Pandemic (VT)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Vermont Advocates Ask for Statewide Pause on Evictions During COVID-19 Pandemic

"Advocates for Vermont's renters are hoping to place a pause on eviction proceedings in court during the new coronavirus pandemic.

The measure would not, however, forgive any rent payments that are due during the COVID-19 public health crisis. Renters would still be expected to pay what they can until further plans for relief are solidified, said Legal Aid attorney Jean Murray.

Unemployment in Vermont and the nation has spiked since the outbreak of COVID-19, the official name of the disease related to the coronavirus that first started to affect people in China at the end of 2019.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

A measure before the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs calls for a "moratorium" on evictions, foreclosure proceedings, and repossession of rental properties. Landlords would still be able to file evictions in court, but the measure would place a stay on all current and new eviction proceedings until 30 days after Gov. Phil Scott's state of emergency order ends, Murray said.

The director of the Vermont Landlords Association, Angela Zaikowski, called the measure a "fair approach to the situation."

In Chittenden County, civil court Judge Helen Toor ordered the court on Monday to defer eviction and foreclosure cases for 90 days, with certain exceptions for emergency situations. The order also says that the court will not act on motions asking a sheriff to put a landlord back into possession of a rental unit until the governor's executive order expires..."

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