Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Emergency Notice

COVID-19 and Housing

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed July 22, 2020

Statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency

On April 20, 2020 Massachusetts passed an emergency law to stop evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 state of emergency.  

On July 21, Governor Baker extended the moratorium to October 17, 2020.

I am a tenant. How does this law protect me?

The law temporarily stops most evictions. For evictions covered by the law:

  • Your landlord is not allowed to send you any eviction notices. They must not send you a:

    • Notice to Quit,
    • 14-day notice,
    • 30-day notice,
    • Notice to vacate, or
    • Any other kind of notice that says you must move out.
  • Your landlord cannot file a new eviction case against you in court, for:
    • Non-payment of rent,
    • No-fault/no cause, or
    • most cause reasons.
  • Courts cannot schedule hearings or other events in court.
  • Courts cannot enter judgments, including “agreements for judgment” or default judgments.
  • Courts cannot issue orders to evict, “executions.”
  • Landlords are not allowed to give executions to sheriffs to serve “48 hour notices.”
  • Sheriffs, constables and movers must not physically move you out of your home.

These protections may not apply if your landlord claims you were involved in criminal activity or lease violations that endangered the health and safety of others. Contact a legal services office if you are not sure whether the law protects you.

What if I already had an eviction case in court before the moratorium was passed?

Your case is covered by the moratorium as long as your landlord does not claim there was criminal activity or lease violations endangering the health/safety of others. For eviction cases covered by the law:

  • All deadlines in your case are put on hold as long as the moratorium is in effect.
  • No court hearings can be scheduled.
  • Courts cannot enter judgments, including agreements for judgment, or issue orders to evict, “executions.”
  • Sheriffs and movers cannot move you out of your home.

Do I still owe rent?

You are still responsible for paying your rent. See Where can I get help paying my rent? If you have an emergency, like if your landlord tries to lock you out, you can still call the court for help. See information about illegal evictions or utility shutoffs.

Can my landlord charge me a late fee if I miss the rent?

If the reason you are late with rent is related to COVID-19, give your landlord a letter within 30 days of the date rent was due. Explain that "the nonpayment was due to a financial impact from COVID-19." If you provide this letter within 30 days of the rent due date the landlord cannot charge you a late fee OR make a negative report to a credit agency.

I am a homeowner or a landlord. How does this moratorium protect me?

  • Lenders cannot foreclose on owner-occupied 1-4 family residential properties.
  • If you ask your lender to “pause” mortgage payments because you have been affected by COVID-19, lenders must agree to put you in a “mortgage forbearance” program.
  • The forbearance program can last up to 180 days, and fees, penalties, and interest should not accrue during that time. All missed payments should be added to the end of the loan.
  • If you are a homeowner and you are in mortgage forbearance, your lender is not allowed to report negative remarks to any credit reporting agency.
  • If you are a landlord you may use your tenants' last month's rent to cover expenses, but you must repay these funds with interest.

How long does the moratorium last?

The moratorium is in effect until August 18, 2020 or until 45 days after the Governor lifts the state of emergency, whichever comes first.

The Governor can extend the end date of the moratorium so that it does not end before the end of the state of emergency.

How can I get help?

If you get an eviction notice, a court complaint or any other papers related to an eviction, contact your local legal aid office.

You may be able to get help paying rent or other housing expenses. For housing resources or to apply for assistance from the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program, contact your region’s Housing Consumer Education Center at www.masshousinginfo.org or call 1-800-224-5124. See information about the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, or RAFT, program.

For information about programs that may be available to help pay rent, see Help with rent.

You can file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office if:

  • Your landlord tries to force you out of your home, or
  • You think your landlord is violating the moratorium.

See the full text of the moratorium law,Chapter 65 of the Acts of 2020.

See the state’s emergency regulations, forms, guidance, and other resources.

See a question and answer video about the new law.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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