Governor Signs Eviction Protection Law
Governor Baker signed into law Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2020 on December 31, 2020, that establishes certain eviction protections and related policy changes. These provisions can help tenants better navigate through the complexities of eviction proceedings and help increase awareness of existing housing payment programs.
The language was originally passed by the Legislature as outside section 79, 80, 88 and 103 in the FY2021 budget that were amended by the Governor. The Legislature overrode the amendments and passed the language as as bill no. H.5181 An Act Providing for Eviction Protections during the COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency.
The new law establishes the following:
- Revised notices to quit for COVID-related evictions;
- Delaying eviction cases if there is a pending application for emergency rental assistance;
- Reporting requirements for the Eviction Diversion Initiative; and
- The creation of a task force to make recommendation on how to improve the Eviction Diversion Initiative. (See description below)
CHAPA thanks the Legislature and the Governor to ensure support for eviction protections during the ongoing pandemic and work towards equitable recovery through housing support.
Description of the sections:
COVID-19 Notices to Quit:
During the COVID-19 emergency declaration, requires property owners to accompany any notice to quit for non-payment of rent sent to a tenant with a form with certain information specified in the statute. The form can be found at mass.gov/noticetoquit. It includes:
- A statement on whether the tenant provided a declaration invoking protection from the CDC federal eviction moratorium;
- A statement on whether the unit is covered by the eviction moratorium on certain rental properties with federal assistance or federally related financing under the federal CARES Act;
- Documentation of any repayment agreement between the property owner and tenant; and
- Information on:
- Available rental assistance programs;
- Applicable trial court rules or orders about eviction cases; and
- Any relevant federal or state legal restrictions on evictions.
The new law also requires a landlord to send to EOHED electronically a copy of any notice to quit for nonpayment of rent given in writing to a residential tenant EOHED has created a portal for landlords to upload the required electronic copy of the notice to quit. The portal for upload also can be found at mass.gov/noticetoquit.
COVID-19 Eviction Case Delay for Pending RAFT Applications:
Directs courts to grant a continuance or stay an execution of judgement for non-payment of rent eviction cases caused by COVID-19 if the tenant has a pending application for any emergency rental assistance. Also requires the trial court to report data on eviction cases, cases participating in pretrial mediation, the number of parties receiving legal assistance, and other relevant information.
Reporting on Eviction Diversion Initiative:
Requires DHCD to report monthly on the Governor’s Eviction Diversion Initiative, including information on:
- Expansion of RAFT;
- Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program;
- Expansion of Housing Consumer Education Centers;
- Rapid rehousing assistance, including HomeBASE;
- Expansion of the Tenancy Preservation Program; and
- Any other relevant information.
Also requires DHCD to report the number of notices to quit received by EOHED.
Eviction Diversion Initiative Task Force:
Creates a task force on the Eviction Diversion Initiative to track outcomes and make recommendations on how to improve its effectiveness, efficiency, and reach. Directs the task force to submit a report on its finding and recommendations by January 31, 2021.