By Bob Katzen
Governor Charlie Baker extended the moratorium on most residential, commercial and nonprofit evictions and foreclosures for 60 days until October 17. The moratorium, approved by the Legislature and signed by Baker on April 20, was set to expire on August 18. The April law gave the governor the power to postpone the expiration in increments of up to 90 days.
The law does allow 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.
“Extending the eviction and foreclosure moratorium … will ensure housing stability for thousands of Massachusetts residents,” said Rachel Heller, CEO of Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA). “No one should have to worry about losing their home during the pandemic. Extending the moratorium by 60 days will allow us time to secure additional federal, state and local resources to help those who have fallen behind on rent or mortgage payments because of the virus.
“The Act’s limitations on evictions and foreclosures have allowed many tenants and homeowners impacted by COVID-19 to remain in their homes during the state of emergency,” said Baker. I am confident that this action, coupled with federal assistance, helped to slow the spread of COVID-19 while minimizing the impact to date on vulnerable families and on our housing market. The extension I am declaring today will provide residents of the commonwealth with continued housing security as businesses cautiously re-open, more people return to work, and we collectively move toward a ‘new normal.’”
Baker also noted that he is aware that the extension will impact many small landlords who rely on rental income to pay their own expenses. He strongly encouraged “tenants to continue to pay rent, and homeowners to make their mortgage payments, to the extent they are able while the moratoria remain in place.”
“[We have] made available $20 million in emergency rental and mortgage assistance to help lower-income tenants and homeowners make their housing payments,” said Baker. “Between now and October 17, my administration will assess whether additional federal and state resources should be made available for this purpose. We also will be working closely with our colleagues in the judicial branch to ensure that when evictions proceedings resume there are programs in place to help tenants pay their rent and avoid eviction.”