Brooks Act passes city council, signed by Walsh

Mayor Martin Walsh last week signed the Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act home rule petition, passed by the city council on Oct. 4, sending the tenant protection act to the state legislature for approval.

Named after the late Roxbury community activist, the Jim Brooks act includes provisions to prevent “arbitrary, unreasonable, discriminatory, or retaliatory evictions,” as well as ensure that tenants and homeowners facing foreclosure are aware of their rights and connected with displacement prevention resources in a timely manner.

“Many residents throughout Boston rent their homes, and we are committed to ensuring they have the support and protection they need,” Walsh said in a statement. “By enacting the JBCSA, the City will be able to track and better manage displacement, educate tenants on their rights, and provide resources to help ensure that households remain housed. This legislation is about fairness and equity -- the JBCSA will help families stay in their homes, keeping our neighborhoods stable and diverse.”

The mayor filed the stabilization act in December, championed by housing advocates pushing for a “just cause” eviction ordinance.

Under the measure, landlords of a certain size would have to submit a “City Rights Notice” — to be created by the city’s Office of Housing Stability — at least 30 days before taking any action to evict. Certain tenant protections would be enshrined to prevent evictions for arbitrary reasons.

There are nine reasons laid out in the act for which a tenant can be evicted, including non-payment of rent, violation of a tenancy agreement, or refusing to sign a lease. But the home rule requires landlords controlling seven units or more to notify the city when they begin the eviction process.

City services would then contact the potential evictees and provide information about rights and resources to either help them fight to stay in their homes or choose to relocate.

“It’s unfortunate that at times during the debate about this legislation, it has pitted landlord against tenant and vice versa,” said City Councillor At-Large Ayanna Pressley at the Oct. 4 hearing. “But surely we can all agree and have come to a place to recognize that everyone, regardless of their position or wealth, whether they are a tenant or a homeowner, deserves to know their rights.”

The city council passed the act in a 10-3 vote, with councillors Sal LaMattina, Bill Linehan, and Tim McCarthy opposing. With Walsh’s signature sending it out of city hands, state Rep. Chynah Tyler will file the home rule petition with the state legislature.