MORATORIUM ON EVICTIONS AND FORECLOSURES

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By Bob Katzen

The House and Senate approved a conference committee version and sent to Gov. Baker legislation putting a moratorium on most residential, commercial and nonprofit evictions and foreclosures until 45 days after the end of the state of emergency, or 120 days after passage of this new law, whichever is sooner. The House and Senate had approved different versions of the bill and a conference committee drafted a compromise plan.

The measure allows the governor to postpone the expiration in increments of not more than 90 days. The bill allows for emergency for cause evictions that involve allegations of criminal activity or lease violations that are “detrimental to the health or safety of other residents, health care workers, emergency personnel or the general public.”

Another provision prohibits landlords from charging late fees or sending reports to credit rating agencies as long as a tenant provides notice within 30 days of a late payment that their failure to pay was tied to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This legislation will offer much needed relief to thousands of renters, homeowners, and small businesses across the commonwealth,” said Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) and Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) who were key members of the conference committee that hammered out a new version acceptable to both branches.

“Overall, this is a very strong bill for tenants and for homeowners,” said the Massachusetts Communities Action Network in a press release. “Key changes we have been pushing for are in the bill. A ban on notices to vacate is included, among other important protections. Of course, there will be much more to do in the next phase of the struggle but finalizing this strong moratorium would be a huge first step and an important accomplishment.”

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