By Bob Katzen
The Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow tenants to ask a court to seal records relating to a recorded eviction in three cases: three years after a recorded eviction, provided no other eviction or landlord action is brought within that time; after satisfaction of any judgment in an eviction or landlord action; and any time after the recording of a no-fault eviction which is when a landlord decides to end a tenancy because of reasons other than non-payment of rent. For example, the property is being sold and the buyer wants to take ownership of the house with no tenants.
The court would be required to collect and annually report data on the number, type and disposition of eviction and current law would be amended to more clearly prohibit the inclusion of a minor as a defendant in an eviction action.
“As soon as an eviction is filed, a tenant has an eviction record,” explains the website passthehomesact.org. “Regardless whether a tenant did something wrong or was actually evicted, the mere fact that they were party to an eviction or housing case is unfairly being used against tenants when they try to rent an apartment. Even winning in court hurts tenants. Unlike criminal records, there is currently no process to seal eviction records, and the records are available online. Children are also being named in eviction proceedings, impacting future housing options for minors.”
“This bill removes some of the barriers that families face to securing stable housing,” said Judiciary Committee chair Rep. Claire Cronin (D-Easton). “The bill allows a person to petition the court to seal an eviction record if there has been no other action for three years and allows for the sealing of no-fault evictions.”
“We are anticipating a tsunami of evictions to be filed once the moratorium ends,” said Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards, a co-sponsor of the measure. “Rebounding from an eviction is hard enough without a pandemic. This bill would allow people that have lost their jobs during the pandemic and are facing eviction to have a second chance by sealing their records.”
“The bill removes barriers that families may face in securing stable housing after they have recovered from a financial catastrophe,” said Rep. Mike Day (D-Stoneham), vice-chair of the Judiciary Committee. “With tailored conditions, we aim to help our residents continue to rebuild their lives and to secure stable housing for themselves and their family.”