Katie Forde, Operations Manager for the City of Boston’s Office of Housing Stability discussed tenant and landlord rights at the February 2020 North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) meeting.
As a branch of the Department of Neighborhood Development, the Office of Housing Stability assists residents in a variety of ways including finding affordable housing, educating landlords and tenants about their rights, and guiding tenants through rental housing emergencies such as fires or evictions. The staff also hosts housing education workshops so that Boston residents can learn more about housing search and tenant rights.
According to Forde, the City of Boston offers up to $2,000 and the state offers up to $4,000 in funding to assist those facing a housing emergency to move out of their apartments or pay back rent. The department also offers “Metrolist,” a database tool for affordable housing options, lotteries, and resales in Boston.
Currently in eviction proceedings, approximately 78% of landlords have representation with only 7% of tenants holding representation. In order to assist tenants, the department has launched a housing court navigator program with a representative available on the fifth floor of housing court every Thursday to walk a tenant through the progress on their eviction status.
The office also offers dispute resolution to tenants and landlords by providing mediation services at a low to no-cost.
With an uprising of building sales throughout Boston, the North End and South Boston have been the most effected. According to Caitlin Smith, Senior Program Manager at the Office of Housing Stability, it is important for tenants to understand their rights in the event that their building is sold.
If a tenant is under a current lease agreement, the new owner of the building must honor that lease. Evictions can only be carried out in housing court by a judge. The Office of Housing Stability is available for anyone who is experiencing an eviction under new ownership by negotiating deals between the tenant and owner.
Forde will also present at the February North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) meeting on Thursday, February 13.