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Massachusetts Governor Extends Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

On July 21, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker extended the current moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic for an additional sixty (60) days, until October 17, 2020. That moratorium was set in “An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency” (the Act), signed into law on April 20, 2020, and was due to expire August 18, 2020. The Act provided the Governor with the authority to postpone the expiration date in increments up to 90 days.

The 60-day extension continues to prohibit “non-essential” evictions of tenants and certain small businesses, banning evictions for non-payment of rent, no-fault evictions, and for a cause other than allegations of criminal activity or lease violations that impact the health and safety of others. It similarly extends the restriction on residential foreclosures.

The Act provides that a creditor, mortgagee or person having an estate in land mortgaged or anyone acting in their name shall not, for the purposes of a foreclosure of a residential property:

(i)             Cause notice of a foreclosure sale to be published pursuant to M.G.L. c. 244, § 14;

(ii)           Exercise a power of sale;

(iii)         Exercise a right of entry;

(iv)          Initiate a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure process; or

(v)           File a Servicemembers Civil Relief Act complaint.

Please see our April 30, 2020 alert for a discussion of the key provisions of the eviction and foreclosure moratoria.

While the extension is intended to provide residents with continued housing security and keep small businesses afloat, it does not relieve tenants and homeowners of their obligation to pay rent or make mortgage payments. The Governor, though, in a letter to the senate president and house speaker, “strongly encourage[d]” tenants and homeowners to do just that, “to the extent they are able…”.

The moratorium extension presents opportunities and pitfalls for homeowners, small businesses, landlords, and real estate practitioners. Please contact me or a member of our Real Estate & Environmental practice for more information about the impacts of the Act or any other real estate matters.