The Massachusetts moratorium on evictions has ended. How does the CDC moratorium come into play and what does this all mean for landlords and tenants? Here’s what you should know about Massachusetts home evictions post moratorium.
The CDC Eviction Moratorium
The CDC moratorium on evictions prohibits landlords from evicting tenants who are “qualified” and who provide a written declaration to their landlord. To qualify, tenants must:
- Seek financial assistance through available government programs.
- Expect to earn less than $99,000 in income for the year (2020).
- Have lost substantial income and are unable to pay the rent in full.
- Make as much rent payment as financially possible.
- Indicate they will become homeless if evicted.
- Confirm understanding that rent is still due and tenancy terms remain intact.
See the CDC declaration form for precise details. Many people incorrectly believe that the moratorium means tenants need not pay rent and landlords are prohibited from evicting them. This is not the case. Rent is still due and there are very specific requirements to qualify for eviction protection.
Massachusetts Eviction Proceedings
Given the influx and backlog of evictions, the court process in Massachusetts has changed a bit. First and foremost, mediation will be encouraged to lighten the court’s caseload. Secondly, older cases will receive priority over newer ones. With COVID precautions still in place, hearings may be held virtually rather than in-person. Cases can still be filed even with a CDC Declaration form presented to a landlord. In those cases, the court may order the eviction to take after December 31, 2020.
A two-tier system is used to evaluate cases. In the first tier, virtual meetings are held to review the facts. There will be an effort to quickly resolve the case or find assistance through available government programs. If none are available, the court will determine whether the tenant qualifies under the CDC Eviction Moratorium. Tenants must file the CDC Declaration form (or alternate form provided on the state’s website) before this first session.
If a case moves forward, it will be added to the second tier. This involves a more detailed evaluation and a potential ruling. Given the backlog of cases, second-tier scheduling could take several months.
Since the Massachusetts Eviction Moratorium has ended, move-out orders are being issued. For qualified tenants under CDC rules, those orders may be executed after December 31st. It’s important to note that move-out orders may be delayed if tenants file a “motion for stay of execution.” The end of the moratorium doesn’t necessarily mean a quick and simple resolution for landlords. This is why mediation is important and encouraged. It can allow both parties to resolve the case and move on sooner.
Summary of Massachusetts Home Evictions Post Moratorium
Massachusetts has always been a tenant-oriented state when it comes to landlord-tenant issues and eviction. That certainly has not changed, although the requirement to file the CDC declaration form does put some onus on tenants. Evictions have always been potentially lengthy. Although Massachusetts home evictions post moratorium are proceeding, the backlog will lengthen the process beyond typical timeframes. If you have an eviction case as either a landlord or tenant, consult with an attorney for legal advice on how to best proceed. Understanding the laws and procedures is essential to protecting your rights. Visit the Massachusetts state website for eviction diversion information.