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Mass evictions in Boston happening more often as rents boom

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Building clearouts

Mass evictions—a.k.a. building clearouts, wherein landlords boot tenants to make way for redevelopments and/or higher rents—are becoming more common in Boston, according to media reports and City Life/Vida Urbana, a housing advocacy nonprofit.

While exact figures are difficult to come by because the city doesn’t track such evictions, the nonprofit told the Globe’s Katheleen Conti that it has worked on 66 building clearouts since 2012.

What’s driving the apparent trend? Exactly what you think: Boston’s ever-escalating rents, which are spurring landlords, investors, and developers to scoop up otherwise nondescript buildings and then convert them so as to cash in on the higher rents.

Those conversions often involve getting rid of the current tenants, some of whom may have been renting in the buildings for years. The new owners (who are perfectly within their property rights) usually incentivize an old tenant’s exit from the building, but such payouts don’t always cut it in Boston’s Thunderdome of a rental market.

Conti notes one East Boston tenant who received $400 a month for a year to relocate—apartments go for much more than that in the tenant’s surrounding area.

For now, tenants have little recourse beyond the courts. But that may change in September when the City Council is expected to vote on beefier tenant protections (which the state Legislature will also have to sign off on). Stay tuned.