When government officials in the United States and Massachusetts first realized the economic toll that the pandemic was having on businesses and individuals, they acted to put protections in place. For example, in April 2020, Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order that placed an immediate hold on most residential evictions. While the moratorium provided many with much-needed, yet temporary, relief, the executive order has since expired in our state. For renters who have questions about the current state of eviction laws and what other forms of relief may be introduced, consider these answers to some frequently asked questions that our law firm has heard–
Will Governor Charlie Baker Be Renewing the Eviction Moratorium?
While many people have called on Baker to extend the moratorium (which expired in October), Baker has stated that he doesn’t believe an additional moratorium is needed. His hope that tenants will be able to remain in their homes without a new eviction ban is based primarily on two things: a $171 million initiative passed in October, as well as the federal eviction moratorium put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What Does the $171 Million Initiative Do?
A large percentage of the $171 million initiative — about $100 million — was allocated for the expansion of the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program, which helps by providing relief to renters and landlords who are struggling to make ends meet due to the pandemic.
What’s the CDC Eviction Moratorium?
While the Massachusetts eviction moratorium may have expired, the CDC has put an eviction moratorium in place for certain eligible renters. The CDC ban will currently last through March 31, 2021. Under the CDC rule, people who meet certain criteria — including making less than a certain amount of money annually and who have experienced a loss of income — cannot be evicted for failing to pay rent. In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh has announced a ‘housing stability pledge’ which, amongst other things, asks landlords to honor the federal eviction moratorium.
What Should I Do if My Landlord Has Threatened to Evict Me?
Facing eviction is a terrifying experience. If your landlord has turned off your heat, locked you out of your home, or made other indications that they plan to evict you, including sending you a notice of eviction, it’s important that you understand your rights. First, remember that there is a federal eviction moratorium in place through March 2021. To be protected under the order, you will need to fill out a declaration form and present it to your landlord. Even if you don’t qualify for protection under the federal moratorium, there are certain steps that your landlord is required to take before they can evict you. For example, you must be served with a notice to quit. What’s more, a landlord cannot legally force you out by changing the locks, shutting off the utilities, etc. — they must follow a legal process.
What should you do if you are a Landlord and you must evict a Tenant?
The summary process proceeding (eviction) in the Housing Courts can be very challenging to pursue. Some summary process actions can be dismissed because the landlord did not give a proper Notice to Quit or may have violated some other law such as the security deposit law. This can have serious impact on the landlord’s ability to evict the tenant, even if the tenant is not paying rent or committing some other default of the tenancy. It is critical that a landlord retain an attorney to properly process the summary process action.
Where Can I Get Help?
If you need help navigating Massachusetts eviction laws, call our real estate and tenant lawyer at the office Deborah Gold-Alexander Attorney at Law. Attorney Deborah Gold-Alexander has over 30 years’ experience and can begin working on your case immediately. Get the help you need today.