The following is a press release submitted to SOURCE. It is published as received.
FRAMINGHAM – Earlier this week the governor signed into law legislation which set a moratorium on most residential and small-business evictions and residential foreclosures for the duration of the COVID-19 State of Emergency and for 45 days following its termination.
This comes in addition to protections for residents passed earlier this month that prohibited the shut-off of essential municipal services for the period of the public health crisis.
“I’m pleased the legislature has taken strong action to advance comprehensive protections for renters, homeowners, and local businesses against eviction or foreclosure for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency and beyond,” said Representative Mike Connolly (D – Cambridge).
“This is the right thing to do for our constituents who are now facing financial hardship and also for the health and well-being of our entire community, as no one should be put out on the street in the middle of a public health disaster. I’m grateful for the support of Speaker DeLeo, Chairs
Honan and Michlewitz, and all my legislative colleagues in passing this bill.”
“I also want to highlight the work of housing justice organizers at City Life/Vida Urbana, the Chinese Progressive Association, and other members of the Homes for All Massachusetts coalition, as well as the work of advocates from Greater Boston Legal Services, the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, Lawyers for Civil Rights,
Massachusetts Communities Action Network, and dozens of other community, advocacy, and labor groups that provided input and support in the crafting and advancement of this urgently-needed legislation,” Rep. Connolly added.
In addition to the moratorium on non-essential evictions and foreclosures, including a prohibition on “notice to quit” letters for the same period, the bill also restricts landlords from charging late fees or sending reports to credit rating agencies for non-payment of rent, provided that tenants
provides notice and documentation to their landlord within 30 days of the late payment that the non-payment was due to financial hardship related to COVID-19.
“Today more than ever our residents need homes to live in. Homelessness must not be allowed to increase,” said Rep. Carmine Gentile (D-Sudbury). The legislation also allows for video conferencing and phone calls during the State of Emergency for reverse mortgage loans. Current mandates require in-person consultations for these loans.”
“It’s essential to give tenants peace of mind during these difficult times. This will also reduce physical interaction while we continue to follow strict social distancing guidelines,” said Rep. Maria Robinson (D-Framingham).
The bill also creates some assistance for landlords, including allowing emergency evictions for actions involving allegations of criminal activity or substantial lease violations that may impact the health and safety of other residents, emergency personnel and healthcare workers, or the general public.
It further allows landlords to make use of last month’s rent funds in advance to cover expenses such as mortgage payments, utilities, repairs, and required upkeep, provided that the tenant’s last month’s rent will still be considered covered, and they will still be entitled to any interest on those funds that would have accrued had the funds not been used in advance.”
“This action will help protect our most vulnerable residents during this COVID-19 emergency. People should not have to worry about losing their homes, especially as an unprecedented number of people face economic hardship and interruptions to their employment,” said Rep. Jack Patrick Lewis (D-Framingham).