Budget Amendment ID: FY2022-S3-371
Extending CDC Eviction Protections
Ms. Jehlen, Ms. Rausch, Ms. Comerford, Messrs. Eldridge, Lesser and Hinds moved that the proposed new text be amended by adding the following new section:
SECTION XX. Extending CDC Eviction Protections within the Commonwealth through December 31 2021.
a. Definitions As used in this section, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:
“Available government assistance” means any governmental rental or housing payment benefits available to the individual or any household member.
“Covered person” means any tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property who, after receiving notice of their right to make this declaration and after receiving a blank declaration to complete, provides to their landlord, the owner of the residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action, a declaration under penalty of perjury indicating that the individual:
(1) Has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
(2) Either (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
(3) Is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
(4) Is using efforts to make timely partial payments, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and
(5) eviction would likely render the individual homeless—or force the individual to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting.
“Declaration” means any written document that a tenant, lessee, or resident of residential property presents to their landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action that contains the required elements of “Covered person,” including a declaration form previously submitted pursuant to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order entitled “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19.”
“Evict” and “Eviction” means any action taken by a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action, to remove or cause the removal of a covered person from a residential property and foreclosure on a home mortgage.
“Residential property” means any property leased for residential purposes, including any house, building, mobile home or land in a mobile home park, or similar dwelling leased for residential purposes.
b. Applicability (1) Pursuant to this Section, a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, shall not evict any covered person from any residential property during the effective period of the section and any court having jurisdiction over an action against a covered person for summary process including the Boston municipal court department shall not (i) enter a judgment or default judgment for a plaintiff for possession of a residential dwelling (ii) issue an execution for possession of a residential dwelling unit (iii) deny a stay of execution or (iv) schedule a court event, except for those to challenge the truthfulness of a declaration.
(2) Prior to commencing an action for eviction to recover possession of residential property by sending a notice to quit, the landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action must execute an affidavit and present it to the court certifying that they have provided the residential tenant with a blank copy of a fillable declaration form.
(3) If a tenant has not submitted a declaration prior to the scheduling of a first court event, including “tier one” mediation, the court shall provide at the first court event information about protections pursuant to this section and provide the tenant with an opportunity to complete a declaration.
(4)This section shall apply to all eviction cases, including those initiated for nonpayment of rent, cause, and no-cause, but nothing in this section precludes evictions based on a tenant, lessee, or resident: (i) Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises; (ii) threatening the health or safety of other residents; (iii) damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property; (iv) violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or (v) violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest), provided that covered persons may not be evicted on the sole basis that they are alleged to have committed the crime of trespass where the underlying activity is a covered person remaining in a residential property after being served with a notice to quit. Individuals who are confirmed to have, who have been exposed to, or who might have COVID- 19 and take reasonable precautions to not spread the disease may not be evicted on grounds that they may pose a health or safety threat to other residents.
(5) Nothing in this section relieves any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract. Nothing in this section precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.
(6)To qualify for the protections of this section, a tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property must provide a declaration with the elements listed in the definition of “Covered person” to their landlord, owner of the residential property where they live, or other person who has a right to have them evicted or removed from where they live.
Any written document that an eligible tenant, lessee, or residents of residential property presents to their landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person with a legal right to pursue eviction or a possessory action will comply with this section as long as it contains the required elements of “Covered person” as described in this section, including a declaration form previously submitted pursuant to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order entitled “Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions to Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19.” Covered persons do not need to submit a new declaration after the enactment of this section. Tenants, lessees, and residents of residential property are allowed to declare in writing that they meet the elements of covered person in other languages. The declaration may be signed and transmitted either electronically or by hard copy.
A single declaration or a single equivalent declaration from a tenant responsible for paying rent under the lease is sufficient to activate the protections of this section. Separate declarations are not required from each person living in the home.
A declaration may be provided at any point prior to the issuing of a final execution order and the court must treat the tenant, lessee, or resident as a covered person from that point forward.
All declarations, regardless of form used, must be signed, and must include a statement that the tenant, lessee, or resident of a residential property understands that they could be liable for perjury for any false or misleading statements or omissions in the declaration. This section does not preclude a landlord challenging the truthfulness of a tenant’s, lessee’s, or resident’s declaration in court.
c. Penalties. Violations of this section shall constitute unfair or deceptive acts or practices for the purposes of section 2 of chapter 93A of the General Laws and shall be enforceable by the attorney general as well as by aggrieved tenants, homeowners or other occupants in the same manner and to the same extent as other violations of said chapter 93A. All the remedies of said chapter 93A shall be available for violations of any section of this act.
d. Effective date. The provisions of this section shall take effect immediately upon passage and will remain in effect, unless extended, modified, or rescinded, through December 31, 2021.