Moratorium on nonessential evictions, foreclosures OK'd

So are legal protections for health-care workers in Covid-19 emergency

The Arlington state legislative delegation has supported bills providing a critical safety net for renters, homeowners and small businesses as well as health-care workers grappling with the economic fallout of the coronavirus public-health emergency.

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Cindy FriedmanFriedman

Dave RogersRogers

Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Reps. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) supported An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency, which prohibits all nonessential evictions and foreclosures and provides mortgage borrowers with forbearance options and protects tenants from late fees as well as other protections. Gov. Baker signed the bill into law April 20.

“During this unprecedented time, it is incredibly important to ensure that our residents are able to remain safely in their homes,” Friedman said in an April 21 news release. “I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Senate and House for taking this important step to ensure that our renters, homeowners and small businesses receive the critical protections and relief they need during this public health crisis.”

Garballey said: "This is an incredibly important step to ensure everyone is able to stay in their homes and stay safe, especially in a time like this where so many are struggling financially. This moratorium will help those out of work keep a roof over their heads and allow us to continue to flatten the curve. I am happy to have worked with my colleagues to provide such relief."

Rogers added: “It is essential that individuals and families facing economic distress are not displaced during a public health emergency. This new law is another example of the Legislature's commitment to protecting our most vulnerable populations during this crisis.”

To address the Covid-19 crisis and its adverse impacts on renters, homeowners and small businesses, the bill includes the following components:

  • A moratorium on all stages of the eviction and foreclosure processes for 120 days from the enactment of the legislation or 45 days after the emergency has been lifted, whichever period of time is shorter. 
  • Prohibits all nonessential evictions for residential properties and small businesses.
  • Prohibits residential landlords from terminating tenancy and sending a notice to quit.
  • Halts landlords from issuing late fees and reports to credit agencies for nonpayment of rent, provided that a tenant offers notice and documentation to the landlord within 30 days of the missed rent payment that the non-payment was related to a financial impact from Covid-19.
  • Allows for video or telephone conferencing during the state of emergency for reverse mortgage loans in lieu of in-person counseling until the emergency order  is lifted.
  • Evictions may proceed during the moratorium for actions that involve allegations of criminal activity or lease violations that are detrimental to public health or public safety.
  • Requires mortgage lenders to grant a forbearance of up to 180-days on required mortgage payments if homeowner submits request demonstrating financial hardship as result of Covid-19.
  • Allows landlords to use a tenant’s last month rent for expenses like mortgages payments and property maintenance, while protecting tenant rights regarding rent paid in advance.

Legal protections for health care 

The delegation also supported a bill passed by the Senate and House to shield those providing critical health-care services from legal liability for the duration of the health. The bill was signed into law by the governor shortly after. 

Under the legislation, health care professionals, facilities and volunteer organizations assisting in the state’s efforts to respond and treat Covid-19 would be protected from suit and civil liability for alleged damages related to the virus. Health care facilities and professionals would still be subject to consumer complaints brought by the Attorney General and protections would not extend to acts of negligence, recklessness, or intent to harm or acts of discrimination.  These protections would apply retroactively to March 10, 2020, and remain in effect for the duration of the emergency.

These news announcements were published Monday, April 27.