Homeowner Legal Assistance Project

The Homeowner Legal Assistance Project (HLAP) provides legal services to Vermont homeowners who are at risk of losing their housing due to financial hardship. We give quick advice to Vermont homeowners who have past-due:

  • mortgage payments
  • property taxes
  • utility bills
  • association fees, or
  • insurance payments

at their primary residence. We also represent homeowners in cases of foreclosure and mobile home “replevin” (a type of foreclosure).

We advocate for homeowners to get financial help through the state’s Vermont Homeowner Assistance Program (VHAP). Since creating HLAP in early 2022, we successfully advocated for changes to the law that keep Vermont homeowners safely housed while waiting for a decision on their VHAP application. This includes:

  • a court rule that pauses foreclosure court process for 60 days if the homeowner notifies the court of a pending VHAP application for mortgage assistance
  • a law that prohibits towns from conducting property-tax sales if the homeowner notifies the town of a pending VHAP application for property tax assistance, and
  • a regulation that stops private electric and natural gas utilities from shutting off service to homeowners who have applied for utility assistance through VHAP.

Advocacy keeps a senior in her home

Bea is a 76-year-old disabled woman who lives on just over $800 per month in Social Security benefits. She contacted Vermont Legal Aid after falling more than a year behind on her mortgage payments.

We determined that Bea was paying too much for property taxes because she did not know how to apply for an income-sensitive property tax credit. We got her help to file for the credit. It reduced her property taxes by thousands of dollars.

We also connected her with the Vermont Homeowner Assistance Program. This COVID-relief program paid her past-due mortgage payments of nearly $10,000. With our help, Bea avoided foreclosure and stayed in her home. The lender ultimately decided to write off Bea’s remaining mortgage debt of about $25,000. Bea now has long-term affordable housing.

Name(s) and some details have been changed to protect anonymity and confidentiality.

More information

Need help?

You may qualify for legal help from Vermont Legal Aid. To ask for a referral to Vermont Legal Aid or other legal help:

  • use our Legal Help Tool on the VTLawHelp.org website, or
  • call our legal helpline at 1-800-889-2047.