Massachusetts State House

Gov. Baker approves moratorium on evictions and foreclosures

A new law will protect Massachusetts residents from evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 crisis. On April 20, Gov. Charlie Baker signed H 4647 into law, placing a moratorium on evictions and residential foreclosures. The moratorium prevents landlords from sending notices of eviction and filing new eviction cases, stops courts from scheduling non-emergency hearings and entering judgements, and keeps sheriffs from removing tenants from their homes. It also prevents negative credit reporting and late fees for tenants affected by COVID-19.

The moratorium also stops residential foreclosures and requires lenders to offer a mortgage forbearance for homeowners affected by COVID-19. It also pauses evictions on small businesses and makes it easier to access reverse mortgages. Additionally, the law gives landlords access to tenants’ last month of rent to cover expenses, and prevents negative credit reporting for homeowners in forbearance.

“The best way to protect everyone is to ask them to stay at home — it only makes good public policy sense to halt foreclosures and evictions, so that vulnerable communities are not worried that they will be evicted, lose their home to foreclosure, and end up homeless if they have lost their jobs and suffer unexpected economic consequences because of this unprecedented crisis,” said Georgia Katsoulomitis, executive director of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, which advocated in support of the moratorium. “This legislation will help keep thousands of individuals and families out of harm’s way during this pandemic and will provide not only economic stability but also will advance public health concerns by ensuring people remain safely housed.”

The moratorium will remain in effect for either four months after being signed into law or 45 days following the end of the state of emergency, whichever is sooner. This can be extended by the Governor.

Many groups were instrumental in advising the legislature. In addition to the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, members of the coalition include: Greater Boston Legal Services, City Life/Vida Urbana, Lynn United for Change, Springfield No One Leaves, Massachusetts Communities Action Network, and Heisler Feldman.

Read additional news coverage here:
Gov. Baker Signs Housing Security Bill, Pausing Evictions And Foreclosures – WBUR
Massachusetts Pauses Evictions And Foreclosures – WGBH
Baker signs eviction moratorium bill – Commonwealth Magazine