Boston Housing Courts Reopen Monday as Massachusetts’ Moratorium Expires

10-19-20 Rhiannon Melton

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Housing courts have reopened today as a result of Massachusetts’ moratorium expiring on
Saturday.

The courts will now be able to hear eviction cases, leaving many concerned as 45,000
Massachusetts residents struggled to pay rent in October alone. Governor Charlie Baker
previously decided not to extend the moratorium, instead rolling out a $171 million package of
rent relief.

Hearings on eviction cases have been frozen since March, in order to protect renters from the
economic downturn which has been seen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor
Charlie Baker defended his decision to not extend the ban on evictions, saying extending the
moratorium would, “let the problem fester”.

Governor Baker described his eviction diversion plan to be preferable to the moratorium, as the
eviction diversion plan will help keep renters and homeowners from falling further into debt.
Some housing advocates, however, fear that this plan will fall short of what’s needed to prevent a
housing crisis, citing rising coronavirus infections in Massachusetts.

Evictions cases will now be able to move forward, with courts expecting to hear anywhere from
25,000 to 200,000 within the next few months. Hearing notices were sent out Monday. Eviction
rates will depend on economic conditions, the landlord’s level of aggression over unpaid rent and
whether the landlord and tenant are able to reach an agreement, and the effectiveness of the
Baker Administration’s relief programs.

The CDC moratorium, however, remains in place until December, and will protect qualified
tenants who fit income and vulnerability criteria. The qualified tenants must also submit a
written declaration to their landlord in order to be protected by the CDC moratorium.