For many renters throughout Massachusetts, the coronavirus pandemic has made making monthly rent payments on time and in full impossible. With high levels of unemployment plaguing the state, businesses shuttered, and many wondering how they’ll afford to put their next meal on the table, tenants state-wide are struggling to get by. While the landlord-tenant relationship can be intimidating, it’s important to know that you have legal rights. Here’s what you should know about tenant rights during the coronavirus pandemic, including what to do if you have been threatened with eviction–
State Moratorium on Evictions Expired
While a moratorium on evictions was passed in mid-2020, which means that landlords were temporarily barred from evicting any tenants, that moratorium has since expired. This means that today, under the current law in Massachusetts, a landlord may evict a tenant for the tenant’s failure to pay rent or another breach of the rental agreement, so long as the eviction follows the correct legal procedure.
However, when the state moratorium lapsed, it was replaced by a federal moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC moratorium will run through March 2021 and, under the rule, qualified tenants who submit a written declaration to their landlord cannot be evicted for non-payment. As such, if you are unable to make your rental payments, it is critical that you fill out the CDC’s form in full and as soon as possible.
New Laws on Eviction Process
According to a new law that went into effect in December 2020, all landlords in the state of Massachusetts are required to provide tenants with a notice to quit prior to evicting a tenant when a tenant is behind on payments. The notice to quit is not an eviction, but does indicate whether the tenant filled out the CDC form and provided a copy to the landlord (discussed above) and whether there is a written or verbal agreement between the tenant and the landlord regarding the payment of overdue rent.
Will There Be Another Moratorium on Evictions in Our State?
While many people are struggling to make ends meet and may very much need a moratorium on evictions, Governor Charlie Baker has stated that the state has enough resources that it will not need to reinstate the moratorium – at least anytime soon.
Get Help from a Skilled Tenants Rights and Real Estate Lawyer
Being evicted from your home, especially in the middle of a global pandemic and during a Massachusetts winter, is one of the worst things imaginable. If you have been threatened with eviction, your landlord has locked you out or turned off the heat, or if you have been served with a notice to quit, you need legal help. It’s important to remember that there is support available and there may be alternatives to eviction. To learn more about your rights, what steps to take, and how to get the help you need, contact Deborah Gold-Alexander, Attorney at Law today. Attorney Deborah Gold-Alexander has over 30 years’ experience in tenant and real estate law.