Message Board Moratorium Bulletin from October 12 RE: End of State Eviction Moratorium, Start of CDC Moratorium

We have prepared the following detailed summary to discuss the end of the state eviction moratorium this Saturday October 17, the start of the CDC moratorium this Sunday, and the Governor’s announcement today of $171 million in additional funding for housing stability.

Judicial Branch Changes

Evictions for tenancies without nonpayment will resume after this Saturday, October 17 if the state moratorium lapses as expected on that date, so long as the Legislature does not impose a new moratorium. When the State-level moratorium expires, the Federal moratorium ordered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will take effect here in Massachusetts.

The Housing Court has updated their standing orders for the end of the state eviction moratorium, Order 6-20 to replace the current orders on Monday Oct 19.

The new Housing Court standing order enforces the CDC eviction moratorium, which protects renters from eviction for nonpayment through Dec 31.

Note that the CDC moratorium does not permit:

“any action by a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action, to remove or cause the removal of a covered person from a residential property.”

A “covered person” is any renter that has provided a declaration containing five key statements set out in the CDC order. Assume 86% of all renters with nonpayment are or ought to be covered. If you receive a declaration, you should work on the assumption that the renter is a “covered person.”

Do not commence proceedings against a renter who provided a declaration.  Every housing provider who commences a new summary process case will have to file an affidavit swearing that they have not received a declaration.

Because the CDC moratorium carries jail time and six figure fines as a possible penalty for noncompliance, do not give a notice for a nonpayment eviction before talking with an attorney. As always, never resort to self-help (change the locks).

MassLandlords’ advice is unambiguous: Do not attempt to work around the CDC moratorium. Some will argue that tenancies with nonpayment might proceed to eviction if nonpayment isn’t listed as a claim. In other words, “Yes they owe money, but I’ll terminate no-fault.” That’s a discussion for you and your attorney concerning your particular financial and legal situation, in the knowledge that State officials (including the Attorney General) will enforce the provisions of the CDC moratorium, which include draconian criminal penalties.

If, instead of trying to work around the CDC moratorium, you file forthrightly for nonpayment:

1.) You will increase the chance your renter is identified for the $100 million made available this afternoon via the Governor’s expansion of RAFT, and

2.) Any theoretical delay imposed by the CDC protections will likely be swamped by our own court backlog, resulting in no practical difference for many of us looking at January or later levies.

Also,

 3.) If the CDC moratorium is worked around, we will get stuck with the “infinite moratorium” that is now before the Massachusetts legislature. The primary reason this infinite moratorium need not pass is the intended strength of the CDC moratorium.

In every case, court procedure will now be modified to delay scheduling of hearings to provide a “Tier One” court event at least two weeks before any hearing to facilitate CDC declarations, applications to RAFT, mediation, etc.

The courts will take at least four to six weeks to deal with the backlog before any new filings will be heard.

Detailed articles will be written for our blog and newsletter. We will update what we know at our COVID-19 Resources Page and at our Eviction Moratorium FAQ.

Changes will be made on Sunday October 18, depending on what happens, or on such other date as we hear corrections or news.

A full video on the CDC moratorium’s impact on Massachusetts was prepared by our Legislative Affairs Counsel.

Executive Changes

This afternoon (Oct 12) the Governor announced a $171 million housing stability package. It includes:

  • $100 million for RAFT, with some additional strings attached; we are waiting for the regulations to be published.
  • Landlords with 20 or fewer units can apply for RAFT on behalf of their renters, with permission from their renter.
  • Pre-trial mediation will be available to owners and renters without having to go to court. Intake details to be published.
  • The Tenancy Preservation Program has been roughly quadrupled to help seniors and those of us living with a disability receive additional help paying rent.
  • Effective Oct 13, renters and owners in Massachusetts will be able to call 211 for housing-related social emergencies, primarily application for ERMA mortgage assistance money and RAFT rent assistance money. (Obviously for fire and physical emergencies, call 911).

We will update you on details as the Governor’s new regulations are published.

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