The Vermont Supreme Court has further amended Administrative Order 49, which declared a Judicial Emergency on March 16, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The amendments focus on the pleading requirements for eviction proceedings based on nonpayment of rent. The order currently requires that plaintiffs filing to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent in a residential housing unit must file a certification that the filing complies with the federal CARES Act. The amended order provides that any complaint filed after December 1, 2021 is subject to dismissal if the certification is not provided.
The other amendments are in response to a request from Vermont Legal Aid to address delays in provision of federal funds to pay back rent and forestall evictions from residential housing. In any action for eviction of a residential tenant based on nonpayment of rent filed after December 1, 2021, the plaintiff must include a notice concerning the availability of Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) funds. The notice must be in the form provided in Appendix D, which can be found on the Judiciary’s website. If the notice is not provided and not corrected within 30 days, the court may dismiss the case and the tenant may request to reschedule the rent escrow hearing. When there is sufficient evidence that the tenant has applied for VERAP funds, the court has discretion to take appropriate action in fashioning a rent escrow order or a writ of possession.
The full Order and other updates regarding COVID-19 and court operations are available at www.vermontjudiciary.org/covid19.