Local state representatives were championed for guiding a new state law that puts a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Governor Charlie Baker signed into law on Monday, prohibits all non-essential evictions and foreclosures, and additional tenant protections.
Residential landlords cannot terminate tenancy or send notice to evict due to non-payment or for no-fault evictions. Landlords are also not allowed to charge a late fee for non-payment of rent or give data to a credit reporting agency if the tenant provides documents showing why COVID-19 prevented them from paying rent.
Creditors must also grant a forbearance on mortgage payments for up to 180 days if requested. Also, fees and interest may not accrue while mortgages are in forbearance.
“Ensuring people have safe, reliable housing throughout this crisis is one of the most important things we can do to flatten the curve and save lives right now,” said state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz (D-2nd Suffolk). “This bill will help keep renters, small businesses, and homeowners alike safe and healthy during this crisis."
Chang-Díaz credited a coalition of advocates, including CityLife/Vida Urbana, Massachusetts Communities Action Network, and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. She also championed the hard work by elected officials, including JP's state Reps Liz Malia (D-11th Suffolk) and Nika Elugardo (D-15th Suffolk).
"While this bill goes far, protecting against negative credit reporting and providing forbearance for COVID-impacted mortgages, we have so much more to do to help everyone stay in their homes after the crisis transitions," said state Rep. Nika Elugardo, D-15th Suffolk. "This bill and the advocacy surrounding it form a foundation for the next bold steps required by the Massachusetts Legislature to ensure housing justice for all residents."
The law provides a period of protection for 120 days from the bill signing or 45 days after the state of emergency is lifted, whichever comes first. The governor can also extend the moratorium.
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"It’s going to be a game changer," Chang-Díaz said. "I know it's going to take time for the MCAD to fill the staffing shortages that they've been experiencing in recent years, but this is a huge step forward."