Most evictions and foreclosure will remain banned in Massachusetts until Oct. 17 under an extension to the COVID-prompted moratorium Gov. Charlie Baker triggered on Tuesday.
Baker’s action will add another 60 days to a temporary ban that was set to expire on Aug. 18. It’s a step that the governor said will help keep many vulnerable families in secure housing while the state continues its gradual progress to revive public activity.
The moratorium law that Baker signed on April 20 prevents virtually all non-emergency evictions and foreclosures amid the pandemic and gave the governor the authority to extend the eviction ban for up to 90 days. Both renters and homeowners are still financially liable for rent or mortgages, but they cannot be forced to pay late penalties if they demonstrate that they are experiencing hardship as a direct result of the outbreak.
“I am aware that the extension I am declaring today will impact many small landlords who rely on rental income to pay their own expenses,” Baker wrote in a Tuesday letter to legislative leaders. “I strongly encourage tenants to continue to pay rent, and homeowners to make their mortgage payments, to the extent they are able while the moratoria remain in place.”
The administration this month made a pool of $20 million available in supplemental housing assistance to help low-income residents in need. He wrote Tuesday that, before the Oct. 17 expiration of the moratorium, his administration “will assess whether additional federal and state resources should be made available for this purpose” and will work with the judiciary to ensure tenants have support programs available once evictions resume.
Supporters of the temporary ban have been pushing Baker to extend its coverage, warning that tens of thousands of evictions could flood the courts — particularly with Massachusetts unemployment the highest in the nation and families facing financial strain — as soon as its protections expire.
Legislation that would keep the moratorium in place for one year after the state of emergency ends has not advanced in either chamber.
“During this 60-day extension, the administration said, it will consult with the court administrators and other stakeholders regarding programs and policies to help tenants avoid eviction when proceedings resume.”