Individual Claims Council to Assist Landlords in Collecting Unpaid Rent

By Eric Weld, MassLandlords, Inc.

Housing providers trying to claim unpaid rent during the eviction moratorium have few options. Housing courts are closed to most cases. The state eviction moratorium has been extended twice, most recently to October 17, and looks likely to be extended again to match the CDC moratorium, which runs through December. Rent relief provided by federal, state and municipal sources falls far short of the need.

The MassLandlords Individual Claims Council will assist landlords in attempting to collect rent in arrears due to COVID-19 and the response.

To help landlords claim rent in arrears, MassLandlords is making available to its members an Individual Claims Council that will assist landlords in attempting to retrieve unpaid rent, enforce the application of rental subsidies, or take other actions that may result in collectible agreements to pay or receive payment. The Individual Claims Council will also be able to determine if renters are eligible for public assistance programs like RAFT or ERMA, and give landlords options to gavel down roadblocks.

For more information and access to the Individual Claims Council, attend a virtual meeting on Thursday, Sept. 10, 4-6 p.m. The event, which will be presented by Peter Vickery, MassLandlords Legislative Affairs Counsel, is open to all ticketholders. Intake will be limited to MassLandlords members, but membership is open to all.

No Solutions to Avoid Housing Crisis

MassLandlords has averred from the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak: No one should be evicted because of the pandemic or its aftermath. We also recognize that housing providers should not be asked to provide public housing for free. We have worked from several angles to devise and propose solutions that will ensure that renters can remain in their homes and that housing providers receive rent payments.

Foremost among our proposals is a Fair and Equal Housing Guarantee via Surety Bonds. We have persistently lobbied legislators to consider our proposal, and to consult with housing providers in legislation responding to the housing crisis brought on by the pandemic. And while we have not pursued litigation challenging the eviction moratorium, we submitted an amicus brief in support of a Superior Court case that calls into question the constitutional legality of the moratorium on several fronts.

So far, these efforts have not taken hold among elected officials. Still, no solution has emerged for a potential housing crisis following the lifting of the moratorium.

Taking Action

The MassLandlords Individual Claims Council is a network of attorneys that will help housing providers file individual legal and political claims for the state to pay COVID-19-related rent arrears. The goal is to avoid court and eviction for all renters affected by the pandemic and response.

Filing individual claims, on a case-by-case basis, can serve as a demonstration of how much damage has been done, and how vital it is that the state take action to assure that housing providers will receive what is contractually owed to them while securing housing for renters.

Simple Process

Intake for the Individual Claims Council is a brief, uncomplicated process. It will take approximately 15 minutes for one unit, and one minute for each additional unit.

Any housing provider with unpaid rent may submit a claim. When you attend the virtual meeting, have a copy of your rental agreement to access details such as tenancy start date, exact rent amount, amount of rent currently owed, address and renters’ names. This will permit you to follow along with intake on your computer.

At the conclusion of intake, participants will be able to select from a menu of actions they wish to explore. Some actions will be self-serve, others will invite an attorney to contact you and enter into a formal relationship.

MassLandlords will continue our advocacy for a Fair and Equal Housing Guarantee via Surety Bonds. The Individual Claims Council initiative will parallel that effort.

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