Without an extension, the State moratorium is set to end on August 18
SOMERVILLE, MA – The City of Somerville’s moratorium on residential and commercial evictions is still in place and will remain in effect until the City’s state of emergency is lifted. The State’s moratorium on residential and small-business evictions will expire on Tuesday, August 18, unless Gov. Charlie Baker extends it.
The Emergency Order Establishing a Moratorium on Eviction Enforcement in the City of Somerville was issued by Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and the Somerville Board of Health on Saturday, March 28, and will remain in effect until the City’s COVID-19 emergency has ended. The City’s COVID-19 emergency remains in effect until further notice.
The City’s eviction moratorium applies to both residential and commercial properties and prohibits the physical act of eviction within the city limits so as to provide for the health, safety, and stability of those who live in and serve our community. It applies to both renters as well as owners in arrears on their mortgages. It also includes orders that the in-person showing of occupied rental units to prospective new tenants or others, as well as any other non-emergency entry, shall cease during the emergency. The City Council unanimously passed measures in support of both actions.
Because the City does not have jurisdiction over the courts, the Somerville Eviction Enforcement Moratorium does not prevent property owners or lenders from filing eviction cases or getting what is known as “an execution for possession” from the court. It prohibits “levying,” which is the physical removal of persons and belongings. This is the one area of the process where municipalities have an opportunity to intervene in order to protect the health and safety of the tenants as well as the community overall. Please note however, that as stated above, there currently remains in place until at least August 18, 2020, a State Moratorium on Evictions which prevents landlords from serving notices to quit or filing court actions for eviction against residential tenants and in some cases, commercial tenants.
Somerville residents who receive a “notice of levy” eviction order or who are experiencing a physical eviction should immediately contact 311 (617-666-3311) to be connected to Office of Housing Stability staff (for residential tenants or homeowners) or Economic Development Division staff (for commercial tenants), who will work with landlords, and the Somerville Police Department as necessary, to intervene.
The order does not protect tenants or owners from eviction once the Board of Health determines that the public health emergency no longer exists. It is thus very important that, to the extent possible, that tenants and homeowners continue to make payments or work out payment plans with their landlords or lenders. The order does not relieve tenants or homeowners of the obligation to pay rent or mortgage debt during the moratorium period.
Additional relief and measures
Along with protection for tenants and homeowners, the City has worked to get relief to both tenants and small landlords by helping residents to obtain rental assistance from the State and local non-profit agencies through the Office of Housing Stability (OHS) and the Office of Immigrant Affairs. The City also recently amended its 2019 Housing and Community Development Annual Action Plan in order to become eligible to receive more than $2 million in Supplemental Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funding made available through the CARES Act. $1.5 million of that funding will soon become available for rental assistance to those most in need through non-profit partners in the community.
Mayor Curtatone is also calling for and supporting state and federal action that will help residents and business owners remain in their homes or businesses. In particular, the Mayor is in support of a State bill expected to be filed soon by Rep. Mike Connolly and Housing Committee Chair Rep. Kevin Honan that would extend the State’s eviction moratorium and provide support to impacted small landlords. He also supports a bill filed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren that would block evictions nationally into 2021. Additionally, the Mayor strongly supports S.2575, a bill to establish a statewide pilot of Right to Counsel legislation for those communities hardest hit by COVID-19. If passed, the legislation would allow tenants being evicted in these heavily impacted areas that are low and moderate-income to be represented by counsel.
Staff from Somerville’s Office of Housing Stability and Economic Development team are available to support residents and business owners. Anyone in Somerville facing housing insecurity should contact the Office of Housing Stability at 617-625-6600 x2581 or go to http://www.somervillema.gov/ohs to file a referral.. Please also visit http://www.somervillema.gov/OHS for additional housing information and updates. Local businesses seeking information on support available should visit http://www.somervillema.gov/CovidBizHelp or call 311 (617-666-3311) to connect to Economic Development staff.
Additional information on how to apply for unemployment, cash benefits, rental support, and more for those facing financial impacts from COVID-19 are available at http://www.somervillema.gov/COVID19 page and are regularly updated.