LSV’s Eviction Rights Work Featured in Seven Days Newspaper
Sometimes the attorneys help stop an eviction or ... simply buy more time.
Legal Services Vermont attorneys were part of an extensive article about the increase in evictions in Chittenden County, Vermont. Seven Days followed the local sheriff as he went to homes to deliver eviction notices and also to escort people out of their rental units once they hit their deadline.
The article says Vermont property owners are on pace to file more than 1,900 eviction cases in 2023, at least 200 more than in pre-pandemic years.
Seven Days reports that landlords usually win in the courtroom, where they almost always have lawyers, and tenants usually do not. That's why four attorneys from Legal Services Vermont were huddled outside the second-floor courtroom, offering free legal counsel to defendants.
The article continues:
“Vermont does not provide lawyers to defendants in civil court as it must for criminal matters, but help is becoming more accessible. Legal Services runs courtroom clinics in four counties. Through a grant, Vermont Legal Aid spearheads an effort to contact every tenant who faces eviction and offer them help.
The Legal Services attorneys waited for tenants to arrive for their rent-escrow hearings, then introduced themselves and offered a conference room to chat. When tenants took up their offer, Toor delayed the hearing by a few minutes to give the lawyers and clients some time.
In this way, attorney Eric Fanning was able to help a family who had shown up with their infant. Minutes later, his colleague Kyle Clauss hashed out a deal with Scibek for a single mother in college.
Sometimes the attorneys help stop an eviction or connect tenants to the limited funds that are still available to help with back rent, managing attorney Maggie Frye said. In other cases, the best legal strategy is to simply buy more time for the tenant to find another place to go. Often the best the attorneys can do is to clearly explain to a tenant that they are going to lose their home.
‘Knowing how much time you have helps you plan and prepare and make good decisions for yourself,’ Frye said.
But they can only help tenants who call back or make it to a court hearing. Many do not.”