What The Massachusetts Housing Security Bill Means For Residential Tenants and Landlords
Disclaimer: The following information is not legal advice, nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Information contained in this post is solely for informational and educational purposes only. Information contained in this post is from MA House Bill 4647. *Licensed in MA.
Housing Security Bill Becomes Law
On 4/20/2020, Governor Baker signed into law a Housing Security Bill. The Housing Security Bill prevents landlords from evicting tenants for the next 120 days or 45 days after the pandemic ends, whichever is sooner. So who does this bill apply to and what does it mean for tenants and landlords, read on.
Do I Still Have To Pay My Landlord Rent?
YES! Failure to pay your rent may result in an eviction action taken against you after the moratorium on evictions has been lifted. During this time, all Renter’s are responsible for the payment of their rent per their contractual obligations.
“NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL RELIEVE A TENANT FROM THE OBLIGATION TO PAY RENT OR RESTRICT A LANDLORD’s ABILITY TO RECOVER RENT!”
House Bill No. 4647 Page 5 of 8 @ Lines 62 and 63
What Rights Affecting My Tenancy Are Protected By The Bill
The Massachusetts legislature intended this bill to prevent “Non-essential Evictions.”
“Non-Essential” Evictions ordinarily arise from:
- Non-payment of rent; or
- A foreclosure; or
- No-Fault or No Cause; or
- For Cause not involving or including allegations of A) Criminal activity that may jeopardize the health or safety of other residents, healthcare workers, emergency personnel, persons lawfully on the subject property or the general property; or B) for lease violations that may impact the health and health or safety of other residents, healthcare workers, emergency personnel, persons lawfully on the subject property or the general property
What Notices Can A Landlord Send A Tenant During This Time?
During this time a landlord may NOT:
- Terminate a tenancy; or
- Send ANY notice- Including a notice to quit, requesting or demanding that tenant of a residential dwelling unit vacate the premises.
Can My Landlord Take Me To Court Now?
No! The bill prohibits your landlord from taking you to court.
Specifically, the law states Courts shall not:
- Accept for filing a writ, summons or complaint; or
- Enter a judgment or default judgment for a plaintiff for possession of a residential dwelling unit…; or
- Deny, upon the request of the defendant, a stay of execution, or upon the request of the party, a continuance of a summary process case; or
- Schedule a court event, including a summary process trial.
Can My Landlord Charge Me A Late Fee?
“A landlord shall not impose a late fee for non-payment of rent for a residential dwelling unit or furnish rental payment data to a consumer reporting agency, if not later than 30 days after the missed rent payment provided the tenant provides notice and documentation to the landlord that the non-payment of rent was due to a financial impact of COVID-19.”
House Bill 4647 Page 4-5 of 8 Lines 53-58
If a tenant fails to pay rent, they may be evicted as soon as the eviction stay is lifted on evictions.
What Happens If A Landlord Violates The Law?
If a landlord violates the law, a consumer may have a potential cause of action against the landlord under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, MGL C. 93A, for damages.
If you feel like your landlord has violated your rights, you should reach out to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office or seek to hire counsel to assist you in your claim.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Pay My Rent?
Communication is key to any good relationship. If you find yourself facing financial hardship, you should:
- Reach out to the landlord and communicate your inability to meet your contractual obligation; or
- Attempt to work out a repayment plan; or
- Research resources like RAFT or other agencies; or
- Try to pay as much as you can afford; or
- Seek out a Debt and Credit Solutions attorney like Sandau Legal for assistance