And even if it is, eviction hearings in the court are moving slowly. The two are now working with lawyer Angela Zaikowski, who also works for the Vermont Landlords Association. They hope she will help shepherd them through the eviction process. But the two have been warned not to expect too much. Zaikowski said she couldn’t give details about specific cases.
Scibek said in late September that the courts are issuing a few eviction orders; she estimated she’d seen a dozen since the pandemic began. State Housing Commissioner Josh Hanford said he gets two or three phone calls each week from landlords who want to evict their tenants and are stymied by the new rule.
“I have great sympathy for their situation,” Hanford said. He’s also talked to tenants.
“There are always two sides to some of these stories. That’s what the eviction process is for: for courts to decide what is due and who should be held accountable. That’s what is so hard about this eviction moratorium.”
Landlords still have the same bills
Vermont Legal Aid, which worked with the Vermont Landlords Association and the Vermont State Housing Authority on the rent stabilization program, is seeing more lockouts than usual these days — situations where the landlord changes the locks in a dispute with the tenant, said Wendy Morgan of Legal Aid.
“Landlords say, ‘I want to be able to evict this person,’ and my answer is, ‘I get it,’” Morgan said. “But you’re not going to be able to evict them until at least January, or until much later than that. So take the money, leave the tenant there for six months, and you’re not going to be further behind.”
The intractable problems faced by both landlords and tenants right now are the reason the state needs to make sure that, at the very least, landlords are being paid and renters can remain housed, Hanford said.
“Our only remedy right now is to ensure there is at least assistance available right now,” he said.
Vermont Legal Aid and the Landlords Association are working on a free mediation program to help resolve conflicts caused by the eviction ban, Morgan said.