MORATORIUM ON EVICTIONS AND FORECLOSURES

By Bob Katzen

Places a moratorium on most residential, commercial and nonprofit evictions and foreclosures until August 18 and gives the governor the power to postpone the August 18 expiration in increments of up to 90 days. At the end of July, Gov. Baker extended the moratorium until October 17.

The measure 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 Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), a 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.”

“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 Gov. Baker about the extension of the moratorium. “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. “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.”

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