Senate Homeowner and Renter Legislation Advances
The Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee late Tuesday approved emergency legislation providing temporary protections for renters and homeowners during the COVID-19 emergency. The measures are intended to ensure housing security while people are being advised to stay home to achieve collective public health goals. The Senate Ways and Means committee proposal provides for protections against eviction and foreclosures.
Additional details provided by State House News:
- Under the bill, courts would be prohibited from entering a default judgement for a plaintiff for possession of a residential dwelling in a non-essential eviction action, or from scheduling a court event in such an action. The bill also prohibits a landlord from imposing a late fee for non-payment of rent, or furnishing rental payment data to a consumer reporting agency related to the non-payment of rent, if the tenant provides documentation to the landlord not more than 30 days after the missed rent payment that the non-payment was due to a financial impact from COVID-19.
- The restrictions would remain in place for 90 days following the bill’s passage, or until the COVID-19 emergency is terminated, whichever is sooner.
- To protect homeowners, the bill under the same time limitations, prohibits a mortgagee, for the purpose of foreclosure of a residential property, from causing notice of a foreclosure sale to be published; exercising a power of sale; exercising a right of entry; initiating a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure process; or filing a complaint to determine the military status of a mortgagor.
The bill also includes language to assist people applying for a reverse mortgage, enabling them to receive counseling via real-time video conference rather than in person, an apparent effort to facilitate the social distancing measures that public officials say are critical to slowing the virus’ spread.
- The bill was approved as House leaders continue to work on bill with a similar goal and amid reports that tenants and homeowners, despite assurances from Gov. Charlie Baker, are growing anxious about the consequences of missing April 1 payments due to job and income losses stemming from the pandemic.
- According to members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, a portion of a $2 billion pot of aid included in the new $2 trillion CARES Act is aimed at helping to prevent evictions.