Baker extends eviction and foreclosure moratorium

Governor keeps protections in place until October 17

GOV. CHARLIE BAKER is extending the statewide eviction and foreclosure moratorium by 60 days until October 17. The moratorium, put in place on April 20, was set to expire on August 18. 

The moratorium, enacted in response to the widespread economic dislocation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, suspends most residential and small business commercial evictions, as well as residential foreclosures. It doesn’t forgive mortgage and rent payments.

 “This law’s limitations on evictions and foreclosures have allowed many tenants and homeowners impacted by COVID-19 to remain in their homes during the state of emergency,” said Baker. “This 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.’” 

The eviction moratorium legislation passed by the Legislature in April allowed Baker to extend the ban in increments up to 90 days as long as his state of emergency declaration remains in effect.

Eviction proceedings are still permitted if the tenant poses a threat to the health and safety of others. In all other cases, courts can’t hear eviction cases or enter judgments. Landlords are barred from charging late fees for nonpayment of rent and providing credit data to consumer reporting agencies if renters can prove within 30 days of a missed payment that their financial hardship is due to income lost as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.   

 While the measure protects tenants against immediate eviction, the Baker administration statement “strongly encouraged” them to continue rent payments and mortgage payments “to the extent they are able.” 

 On July 1, the administration announced a $20 million emergency rental and mortgage Assistance fund. An additional $18 million was made available through the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) homeless prevention program, which can also be used for rent or mortgage payments. In the case of RAFT, mortgage lenders and landlords receive payment directly from the state, and can’t evict tenants.  

Baker says he plans to consult court administrators regarding “programs and policies” to help tenants avoid eviction when the ban lifts. 

 A bill pending in the Legislature, sponsored by Reps. Mike Connolly of Cambridge and Kevin Honan of Brighton, would go further than Baker’s extension, maintaining the eviction moratorium for 12 months beyond the end of the state of emergency.  

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Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

Lew Finfer, a spokesman for a group community and housing group called the Homes for All Coalition, praised the extension announced by Baker but urged the Legislature to pass the bill filed by Connolly and Honan.

Douglas Quattrochi of the advocacy group MassLandlords previously said that the organization supported a short extension of the eviction moratorium, but that the state needs to come up with funds to make landlords whole. He said the group opposes the bill to extend the moratorium for 12 months beyond the emergency declaration.