By Bob Katzen

The Senate 39-0, approved an amendment designed to protect tenants during COVID-19. The amendment seals eviction records for defendants in eviction proceedings for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19 when the case does not result in a judgement against the defendant or a defendant has made a good faith effort to come to a reasonable agreement.

Other provisions protect tenants’ credit worthiness by prohibiting landlords from providing information related to nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19 to credit reporting agencies; minimize processing and waiting times for applicants for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program which provides short-term financial assistance to low-income families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless; and create a task force to monitor the implementation of the administration’s COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Initiative and to make policy recommendations whenever necessary.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated housing insecurity,” said Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), the sponsor of the amendment. “We are in the middle of a public health and economic crisis that is impacting thousands across the commonwealth. This amendment further strengthens the comprehensive approach taken by the Senate to address housing-related challenges. Protecting vulnerable tenants’ eviction records and credit reports will help ensure that their prospects of obtaining future housing are not jeopardized by this pandemic.”

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