Gov. Charlie Baker signed the H.4647 bill into law this week, halting most Massachusetts evictions and foreclosures during the coronavirus pandemic. Passed unanimously by the House, a final version was negotiated with the Senate late last week.
Under the new law, all eviction proceedings will stop for four months or until 45 days after the current state of emergency is lifted, except in cases of health-related or tied to the safety of other tenants. Landlords cannot charge late fees for unpaid rent and banks must grant 180 days of mortgage forbearance to homeowners.
“I am proud that this legislation places the Commonwealth as a leader in the nation on protecting renters, homeowners and small businesses and will offer protection to some of our most vulnerable residents,” said State Representative Aaron Michlewitz, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. “During these difficult times, we need to be especially cognizant of those living on the margins and help ensure that people will not lose their homes and businesses due to the effects of COVID-19.”
Bill proponents can rightly say the law is one of the country’s strongest moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures, as ranked highly by Eviction Lab, a national scorecard for tenant protections.
In addition, the bill adds a provision for landlords to use last month’s rent deposit to offset any immediately lost rent. In a previous bill, legislators gave cities the ability to delay property tax payments. The City of Boston has already extended this quarter’s payment due date by one month to June 1st.