Gov. Baker extends eviction freeze

from Banker & Tradesman

TUESDAY, JULY 21, 2020—Amid rising concern that a “tsunami” of evictions would strike Massachusetts renters on Aug. 18 and proposed solutions would significantly harm landlords and lenders, Gov. Charlie Baker announced he is extending the state’s eviction moratorium through Oct. 17The law that created the current freeze, which also covers residential mortgages, includes a provision that allows Baker to extend it in 90-day increments. The moratorium was originally set to expire Aug. 18. Housing advocates and the state’s Housing Court had estimated as many as 20,000 evictions might have been filed after the moratorium expired. 

The extension “provides residents of the Commonwealth with continued housing security as businesses cautiously re-open, more people return to work, and the state collectively moves toward a ‘new normal,'” Baker’s office said in a statement. “During this 60 day extension, the Administration will consult with the court administrators and other stakeholders regarding programs and policies to help tenants avoid eviction when proceedings resume.”

Baker also announced a $20 million statewide fund, called the the Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance program, on July 1. [see the July 1 article below]

“Between now and October 17, my administration will assess whether additional federal and state resources should be made available for this purpose,” Baker wrote in a letter to Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo announcing the extension. “We also will be working closely with our colleagues in the judicial branch to ensure that when evictions proceedings resume there are programs in place to help tenants pay their rent and avoid eviction.

The announcement emphasized the current moratorium does not absolve homeowners of their responsibility to pay their mortgages or of renters or commercial small business tenants to pay their rents if they are able. All must document why they are unable to pay using forms such as this form created by the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

The state’s commercial developer trade association welcomed Baker’s decision.

“While overall rent collection remains high, Massachusetts currently has the highest unemployment rate in the nation,” NAIOP-MA CEO Tamara Small said in a statement. “We recognize that residential and small business tenants need protection and understand why the Baker-Polito Administration made this decision. We look forward to working with our members, the Administration, the legislature and the courts to find ways to protect tenants while also providing relief to property owners in these challenging times.”

Baker’s move comes after Attorney General Maura Healey and leading Democratic state lawmakers urged the extension yesterday.

While the biggest statewide landlord trade group, MassLandlords, had pushed for a state guarantee of rental payments, much of the attention on Beacon Hill coalesced around a bill from Housing Committee Co-chair Rep. Kevin Honan, Rep. Mike Connolly and Sen. Patricia Jehlen to extend and expand the moratorium on evictions and foreclosures until one year after the governor lifts the current state of emergency. The real estate and lending industries in Massachusetts are strongly opposed to the bill, although most industry leaders have described the potential for a huge wave of evictions as an urgent problem.

The bills would also freeze rents over the same time period and allow small landlords owning up to 15 units to defer mortgage payments until the end of the mortgage if they lose income due to COVID-19.


see also Baker extends moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for 60 days CBS Channel 7