Under a recent Vermont Supreme Court administrative order (AO 49 Amendment 2-07-22), you can get a 60-day foreclosure suspension by applying to the Vermont Homeowner Assistance Fund Program (VT HAP) and filing a request to stay (suspend) the foreclosure with the court.
Eligible homeowners in Vermont who've experienced a financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic can receive some of the $50 million allocated to the state from the federal Homeowner Assistance Fund, up to $30,000 per household, through VT HAP.
This state-run program uses federal money to help homeowners catch up on overdue mortgage payments and other housing-related expenses, like past-due homeowners' association fees, property taxes, and utilities.
For foreclosure actions in Vermont filed on or after February 22, 2022, the plaintiff (the foreclosing party) must serve you (the mortgage borrower) notice about the availability of VT HAP when serving a foreclosure complaint. The notice must also include information about the opportunity to request a stay. If the foreclosure action was pending on February 22, 2022, the plaintiff must give notice about VT HAP by first-class mail and, if available, by email.
The notice requirement applies only to one- to four-unit residential property foreclosures and residential mobile home replevin actions. But the plaintiff doesn't have to serve this notice if the property being foreclosed isn't owned and occupied by the borrower as a primary residence. It also doesn't have to serve the notice if the court previously issued an Order Confirming Sale (applies to foreclosures) or Writ of Replevin (in a mobile home replevin action).
To get a foreclosure suspension, you have to file a request to stay from the court and send a copy to the plaintiff. You have to state that you've submitted a VT HAP application and believe you meet the program requirements to receive assistance. The notice you receive from the plaintiff should include a form for you to fill out indicating you've applied to VT HAF. But if you need help filing a request for stay, contact a Vermont foreclosure attorney.
Then, a stay automatically goes into effect, without a court order, that prevents any entry of judgment, notice of sale, sale of the property, or issuance of an order of replevin for 60 days from the date the court received the request.
Also, if the plaintiff knows that you applied for VT HAP assistance, the plaintiff must promptly inform the court of the pending VT HAP application. The court may then stay the foreclosure or take other appropriate action.
The plaintiff may object to the 60-day automatic stay by filing a motion to terminate the stay. The court may terminate the stay if it finds that:
If neither the plaintiff nor you notify the court of a decision on the VT HAP application before the 60-day period ends or seeks an extension of the stay, the stay will automatically expire. The foreclosure can then proceed. Ask the court for an extension of the stay if your VT HAP application is still pending at or around the 60-day mark.
Or the court will end the stay when it receives notice from the plaintiff or you that VT HAP assistance was denied.
The notice and filing requirements, and the availability of a foreclosure pause to seek VT HAF assistance, expire on September 30, 2025, or when the court gets notice from the Vermont Housing Finance Agency that VT HAP funds have been exhausted, whichever is earlier
Effective date: February 22, 2022