COVID-19 and Housing

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Created October 17, 2020

On October 17, the Massachusetts eviction moratorium ended and the law that protected tenants from eviction during the pandemic can no longer protect you. Landlords can begin evicting tenants again.

But the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) ordered a national eviction moratorium to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The moratorium stops landlords from evicting some tenants who cannot keep up with rent.

What kinds of evictions does the CDC order allow?

The CDC order says you can still be evicted for criminal activity, dangerous behaviors, damaging the property, or violating a term in your lease. But, call your local legal aid program. We may be able to help.

Do I qualify for the national CDC eviction moratorium?

To qualify:

  • You must:
    • have received an Economic Impact Payment, "stimulus payment", this year, or
    • get $99,000 or less in income in 2020, or
    • get $198,000 or less in income in 2020 if you are married and file a joint return, or
    • not have had to report income to the federal government in 2019.

    And

  • You are not able to pay your full rent because:
    • you had a “substantial” loss of household income, or
    • you lost your job, were laid off, or your hours were cut back, or
    • you have “extraordinary” out-of-pocket medical expenses. These are medical expenses that add up to more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income for the year, and no one is paying you back for them. 

    And

  • You are making your best effort to pay as much as you can towards your full rent, while still paying for your family's basic needs. And
  • If you were evicted, you are likely to be homeless or forced to move in with someone else. And
  • You have done your best to get help with rent from all available government programs.

If I qualify, what do I need to do?

1. Apply for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) Program  

  • Find the agency that reviews applications for RAFT where you live. Call 1-800-224-5124 or find the agency closest to you.
  • Complete and submit a “pre-application.”
  • If you pass the pre-application screening, the agency will give you an application.
  • Fill out the application. The agency will ask you for copies of things like your bills, lease, and income.
  • If the agency approves your application, they will tell you what to do to get the money.

You can apply for other local rental assistance also. See Where can I get help paying my rent?

Important

Keep copies of all your rental assistance pre-applications and applications  as well as anything they send you.

2. Read the CDC Declaration. If all the statements are true for you, sign and send it to your landlord

Important

When you sign the Declaration, you are swearing that everything in the Declaration is true.

  • Keep a copy of the Declaration.
  • Send the original to your landlord by certified mail, or email.
  • Try to get proof you gave the Declaration to your landlord:
    • If you send the Declaration by certified mail, keep the receipt.
    • If you email the Declaration, keep the email you sent.
    • Keep anything your landlord sends back to you.

Will the Declaration I send to our landlord protect our whole household?

No, each adult in your household needs to send their own Declaration to your landlord.

Does my financial hardship need to be related to COVID-19?

No. The CDC Oorder does not require that your financial hardship be related to COVID-19.

What if my landlord already started to evict me?

You can give your landlord a signed CDC Declaration at any time during the eviction process. Call your local legal aid program.

I qualify for the CDC eviction moratorium and I gave my landlord my Declaration, but they are evicting me anyway

Call your local legal aid program.

If your landlord takes you to court for any of reasons the CDC order does not cover and you did not do them, you can file a Motion to Dismiss.

Landlords who violate the CDC’s order may be fined up to $100,000, face up to a year in jail, or both if the evicted person gets coronavirus because they were evicted. If an evicted tenant dies of coronavirus, the landlord can be fined up to $250,000, face up to a year in jail, or both.

Can I my landlord evict me when the CDC national eviction moratorium expires?

Right now, you can be evicted when the CDC national moratorium ends, December 31, 2020.

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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