The Massachusetts Legislature has passed, and Governor Charlie Baker has signed into law, a statewide stay on virtually all summary process filings (a.k.a. Evictions) in Massachusetts during the Coronavirus Emergency. The new statute is in effect until 45 days after the Coronavirus Emergency is lifted by Governor Baker, or four (4) months, whichever is earliest. However, the Governor is permitted to extend the law for 90-day increments.
Across the Board Eviction (Summary Process) Relief
The Eviction Moratorium covers 90% of all evictions, including non-payment and no-fault evictions, both residential and commercial. The only exception is if a tenant is engaged in criminal activity or a lease violation, which impacts the health and safety of other residents or first responders.
- Massachusetts Housing and District Courts will now not accept new eviction filings.
- Eviction cases that are already pending in court are effectively suspended until the law expires.
- Eviction move-out orders are also suspended.
- All court deadlines and statutes of limitations are suspended.
- Landlords are prohibited from issuing
- notices to quit or
- terminating a lease.
- Late fees for unpaid rent are also ILLEGAL.
- Landlords are barred from reporting delinquencies to credit reporting agencies if the tenant provides documentation of financial hardship related to the Coronavirus crisis.
- Landlords may now use last month’s deposits to pay for mortgage and property expenses, but they must account for the deposit at the end of the tenancy.
- The Act does not suspend the obligation to pay one’s rent.
Small Business Impacts
The eviction moratorium also applies to certain “small business” commercial spaces. Small businesses are defined as any in-state for-profit and non-profit business with less than 150 full-time equivalent employees.
- It does not apply to chains or businesses operating multi-state, multi-nationally, or publicly traded companies.
- Commercial landlords may, however, issue payment default notices and notices to quit.
- The Act does not suspend the obligation to pay one’s mortgage.
- All residential property foreclosure proceedings are prohibited and suspended.
- Lenders are banned from sending foreclosure notices,
- filing Land Court Servicemembers proceedings
- conducting foreclosure auctions,
- or otherwise engaging in any foreclosure-related action under state law.
- The Act requires banks to grant up to 180 days of mortgage forbearance to homeowners who have been hurt by the coronavirus crisis.
- The forbearance will be added to the end of the term of the loan. The foreclosure relief part of the law expires 45 days after the Coronavirus Emergency is lifted, or 4 months, whichever is sooner, but the Governor may issue 90 day extensions.