Housing Stability

Headline:

Certain eviction protections for MA renters in non-payment cases have been extended through March 31, 2023.

Last-reviewed: 9am, June 23, 2022

Key Resources:

Eviction Moratorium

The Basics

  • Certain eviction protections for MA tenants facing eviction for non-payment of rent were extended through March 31, 2023.
  • Housing Courts, District Courts, and Boston Municipal Courts (BMC) continue to conduct summary process hearings in tiers.
  • The Department of Research and Planning has launched an online tool to track all residential evictions in Massachusetts.
  • The Office of Housing Stability in Boston hosts virtual legal clinics for tenants and small landlords every Tuesday from 5:30 – 7:30pm. The clinics aim to provide community members with eviction defense information and assistance. Tenants and small landlords can register for the clinic.

The Breakdown

  • Through March 31, 2023, MA courts must delay non-payment eviction cases while a tenant’s application for rental assistance is pending.
  • Eligible renters can apply for emergency rental assistance online here.
  • Homeowners can apply for mortgage payment assistance through the Homeownership Assistance Fund (HAF) in addition to the RAFT program.
  • Until January 1, 2023, landlords serving a notice to quit must continue to provide the tenant with a completed form swearing to certain facts. More information can be found on the Mass.gov Required Attestation Form to Accompany a Notice Quit page.
  • Housing Courts, District Courts, and Boston Municipal Courts (BMC) will continue to conduct summary process hearings in tiers.
    • The 1st tier is designated for mediation. Tenants who do not appear at the first tier will receive a default. If there is no resolution at the 1st tier, notice of a 2nd tier date – a trial – will be sent to the tenant and landlord.
  • The eviction moratorium in the City of Somerville expires on June 30, 2022.
  • Parties to Housing Court cases can sign up online for an eReminder (by text message) of upcoming court events. Learn more about this service here.
  • A HUD rule that requires that tenants living in a HUD-subsidized property receive a 30-day notice for non-payment of rent. The rule also requires that landlords provide tenants with information about available federal emergency rental assistance.
  • DHCD has partnered with community mediation centers to expand access to mediation resources in an effort to prevent eviction.
  • Housing discrimination – including eviction or refusal to rent – based on national origin or race, age, gender, disability or the perception that one has a disability, is illegal. If discrimination is experienced for these or other reasons, one option is to file a complaint with the MCAD telephonically or electronically.
  • CFPB has issued a housing insecurity media toolkit. The toolkit includes information and resources for homeowners, renters, and landlords.
  • Statewide financial assistance is available through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) for families who qualify for emergency housing payment assistance.
  • Some MA cities, like Boston, are offering rental relief assistance in addition to statewide financial aid.
  • The Boston Housing Authority (BHA) and the City of Boston have partnered to create a Public Housing Rental Relief Fund for residents who are living in public housing and are struggling with paying back rent due to COVID-19. BHA residents should contact their site manager to see if they qualify for assistance.

The Bottom Line

  • Although there is some uniformity among courts, eviction proceedings may happen differently in Housing, District, and BMC courts. Contact the clerk’s office in the court where the eviction matter is pending for the most up-to-date information. Emergency shelter should be available for families who qualify.
  • City Life/Vida Urbana assists renters who are facing evictions. They can be reached at (617) 934-5006 (English) or (617) 397-3773 (Spanish).
  • Greater Boston Legal Services developed a self-guided eviction help site for tenants facing eviction without an attorney. The site offers resources to help tenants properly answer their landlord’s complaint for eviction.
  • Free legal assistance can be found through the MA Legal Resource Finder.
  • People with court cases relating to housing who do not have a lawyer may contact the Housing Court Virtual Front Counter and Housing Specialist Front Counter, the Housing Court helpline or the Housing Court for their region to confirm scheduling and deadlines in their case.
  • Statewide resources are available for homeowners and tenants.

Foreclosure

The Basics

The Breakdown

  • The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will suspend the foreclosure process if they are notified that the homeowner applied for assistance through the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF).
  • On September 24, 2021, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will continue to offer COVID-19 forbearance to qualified multifamily owners.
  • Effective July 27, 2021, the VA will allow homeowners to continue paying their regular monthly payments, deferring forborne payments to the end of the mortgage term. More information can be found here.
  • The City of Boston launched a mortgage relief partnership with twelve housing lenders. The lenders will offer at least three months of deferred mortgages payments for homeowners who contact them and demonstrate that they have been financially impacted by the public health crisis.

The Bottom Line

Homelessness & Shelter

  • Families who receive HomeBASE benefits to help stabilize housing-related needs may be able to access more funds quickly.
  • Families with children and/or pregnant people seeking Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter can apply by phone with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD): 1-866-584-0653. 

Conditions of Disrepair

The Basics

  • With the end of the State of the Emergency, government agencies are working to implement procedures for community members to access resources and address their housing needs.

The Breakdown

  • The CELHP team at MLRI launched MADE: Up To Code, an online tool to assist renters in documenting bad conditions and holding landlords accountable when repairs are needed.
  • The local Board of Health is one resource renters can use when their landlord has not addressed an unsanitary or unsafe condition.

The Bottom Line

  • Frontline workforces at large agencies or companies may need time to learn changed rules. Try to have something in writing on hand – like a link to a consumer protection announcement – that indicates a right or eligibility for benefits.