April 13, 2020



Legislation prohibits evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 state of emergency


State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate in passing An Act providing for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency. This legislation will provide a critical safety net for renters, homeowners and small businesses grappling with the immediate economic fallout of the current public health pandemic.

“People should not have to worry about losing their housing during a pandemic,” said Timilty. “The voluminous amount of people unemployed right now due to the coronavirus is staggering. How can we expect those without income during and as a result of this emergency to observe the stay at home advisories if they don’t have a home in which to stay,” said Timilty. “I only hope that this legislation offers some peace of mind and relief.”

To address the COVID-19 public health crisis and its adverse impacts on renters, homeowners and small businesses, the bill includes the following components:

The bill extends eviction protections to renters and small businesses during the state’s COVID-19 state of emergency and places a moratorium on all stages of the eviction process for non-essential evictions for a period of 120 days after the bill becomes law. The bill authorizes the governor to extend the moratorium beyond 120 days, if the crisis continues.  The moratorium on evictions prohibits, for non-essential evictions, a landlord or property owner from terminating a tenancy or sending a notice to quit, prohibits a court from entering a default judgement, prevents the scheduling of court hearings, and prohibits the enforcement of an execution to forcibly remove a tenant.

In addition to a moratorium on the eviction process, the bill extends protections to homeowners and halts the foreclosure process for a period of 120 days after the bill becomes law to ensure homeowners and residential property owners are protected throughout this public health crisis.

The Senate bill protects homeowners by requiring mortgage lenders to grant a forbearance of up to 180-days on required mortgage payments, if a homeowner submits a forbearance request demonstrating a financial impact from COVID-19. In addition, the bill protects homeowners by prohibiting mortgage lenders from furnishing negative mortgage payment information to a consumer reporting agency and prohibits the accrual of fees, penalties or interest during the life of the forbearance granted.

Additionally, the Senate bill also provides renters and homeowners struggling financially with additional protections during this uncertain time and prohibits landlords from imposing late fees for non-payment of rent for a residential dwelling or small business. Similarly, the bill prohibits landlords from sending payment data to credit reporting agencies related to the non-payment of rent.  These protections are available to a tenant if the tenant provides notice and documentation to the landlord within 30 days of the missed rent payment that the non-payment was related to a financial impact from COVID-19.

To promote strict adherence to social distance measures during this public health crisis, the bill allows a person applying for a reverse mortgage to receive counseling conducted virtually through real-time video conference or by phone in lieu of in-person counseling until the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted by the Governor.

The bill now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.

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