BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, May 26, issued guidance to protect individuals living in long-term hotels and motels from being removed from their housing during the COVID-19 state of emergency.
According to the AG’s guidance, it is unfair for hotels, motels, and other lodging establishments that are housing vulnerable populations, such as the homeless or those who live in long-term hotel arrangements, as well as first responders and health care workers, to remove these guests for non-essential reasons while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“We want everyone to know that during this crisis, their housing is secure – especially those with nowhere else to go,” said Healey. “Our office is issuing this guidance to protect families and individuals who are living in hotels and motels and need to stay safe during this public health emergency.”
Currently, hotels that remain open during the emergency are operating as essential businesses to support public health efforts underway to stop the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the impact on our state’s medical capacity.
For the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency, hotels may continue to provide essential housing and offer accommodations for frontline workers looking to self-isolate or traveling to help with the pandemic response, or for those who would otherwise be homeless.
Hotels remain restricted from providing accommodations for leisure or vacation travel during Phase 1 of the state’s re-opening plan.
Under the AG’s guidance, it is an unfair practice for hotels to eject, evict or otherwise remove a guest during the COVID-19 emergency if they cannot pay for their room.
Lodging establishments may eject guests if they engage in criminal activity or violate the hotel’s policy in ways that threaten the health or safety of hotel workers, other residents, health care workers, emergency personnel, or the general public.
The AG’s guidance does not intend to create tenancies that do not already exist and does not relieve guests of their obligation to pay for the accommodations.
However, hotels are encouraged to provide guests with information about emergency housing assistance funds available across the state.
Lodging establishments covered by the guidance include hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, short-term rentals such as Airbnb, VRBO and similar rental properties rented for 31 days or fewer, lodging houses and professionally managed units rented for 31 days or fewer, inns, resorts, and time shares, if the guest is using the lodging for an essential housing purpose as defined by the guidance.