April 22, 2020
Governor Baker has signed legislation, Bill H.4647, into law to protect homeowners, tenants, and commercial properties from eviction and foreclosure. Entitled “An Act Providing For a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency,” the act ensures housing stability for residents, families, and certain small businesses during the pandemic.
Residential Tenants: A landlord/owner of a residential dwelling unit shall not, for the purposes of a non-essential eviction (including foreclosure or non-payment of rent): (i) terminate a tenancy; or (ii) send any notice, including a notice to quit, requesting or demanding that a tenant of a residential dwelling unit vacate the premises. Thus, while a residential landlord could technically send a notice of default for non-payment, the landlord cannot thereafter terminate the lease or suggest in any writing that the landlord might terminate or demand the tenant vacate. There are exceptions, including issues of health and safety, and for expiration of lease term, but residential landlords must otherwise put evictions on hold.
Commercial Tenants: No landlord/owner can evict or foreclose on certain small business tenants, including businesses with less than 150 employees, unless the business is within the common control of a larger multi-state, multi-national, or publicly traded company.
Additionally, the legislation states that a tenant’s inability to pay rent during the COVID-19 emergency will not impact the tenant’s credit rating. The legislation does not forgive debts arising out of the tenant’s non-payment of rent.
For pending eviction claims against residents or applicable small businesses, the legislation prohibits Massachusetts housing courts from accepting any eviction Complaint; entering any default judgment or execution of judgment against a tenant; denying a stay of execution; or scheduling any eviction hearings. The legislation likewise restricts any Massachusetts sheriff from enforcing eviction judgments against tenants protected by this legislation.
The full text of Bill H.4647 can be read here.
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