Massachusetts has put a moratorium on non-emergency residential evictions and foreclosures amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday signed legislation for the measure that the State House passed earlier this April.
The legislation essentially blocks every stage of an eviction—including landlords’ filing of eviction notices—for the next 120 days or for 45 days from the lifting of Baker’s March 10 declaration of emergency due to the pandemic, whichever comes first. There are exceptions for the health and safety of other tenants.
The move also bans late fees and negative reporting to credit-rating agencies for unpaid rents, so long as tenants can prove the tardiness was due to the pandemic.
The moratorium, too, establishes up to 180 days of forbearance of mortgage payments if borrowers request it due to financial impact from the coronavirus. Residential foreclosures on owner-occupied one- to four-family homes are also on pause under the new moratorium, including publishing any notices of foreclosure sales and negative reporting to credit-rating agencies.
Prior to Baker’s April 20 signature, there had been a patchwork of protections and aid for tenants and homeowners due to the pandemic. These included the closure of housing courts—where non-emergency evictions would be processed—until at at least May 4 and help for mortgage holders who needed it in Boston proper.
The new moratorium creates more blanket protections for the duration, though evictions and foreclosures would pick up after its end. Still, tenant advocates hailed the measure.
“Legislators in both the Massachusetts House and Senate worked hard to come up with a fair and equitable bill that protects both renters and homeowners during this unprecedented crisis,” Georgia Katsoulomitis, executive director of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, said in a statement. “We thank them for crafting a strong moratorium, and we thank Gov. Baker for his support and quick action.